House approves EPA science committee overhaul

House approves EPA science committee overhaul
© Getty Images

The House on Thursday approved a bill to overhaul the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) scientific advisory committee. 

The legislation from Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) would change membership requirements for the EPA’s Science Advisory Board to include more industry voices, expanding financial and conflict of interest disclosure requirements and giving the public the chance to more readily comment on the board’s actions. 

The bill is similar to one that passed last Congress, and it comes one day after the House approved another bill aimed at the EPA’s use of science. Lucas’s bill passed on a 229-193 vote.  

ADVERTISEMENT

“This is a bill that is built on the policies we should uphold regardless of which side of the political aisle we are on, or who happens to be president,” Lucas said. 

The bill “ensures the best experts are free to undertake a balanced and open review of regulatory science.”

The EPA’s Science Advisory Board reviews the scientific and technical research that goes into the agency's rulemaking process, and it advises the agency on other scientific matters. 

Democrats broadly opposed Lucas’s bill, saying its requirements would undermine EPA’s research by allowing more industry influence over the scientific process.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) said the bill would restrict the agency’s rulemaking by giving too much influence to regulated industries. 

She contended that if the bill had been law during fights over tobacco regulations in the 1990s, “Big Tobacco likely would have succeeded in cooping the Science Advisory Board.”

The bill “is designed to harm the EPA’s ability to use science to make informed decisions,” she said. “This is not the best interest of the American public.”

Thursday's vote comes after the House passed a bill to restrict the type of science and data the EPA uses to write new regulations. 

The House voted 228-194 on Wednesday to prohibit the EPA from writing rules using science that is not publicly available. That legislation is similar to measures passed in previous Congresses.