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House passes bills to make EPA more transparent and accountable

Washington, March 19, 2015

U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) voted this week in support of two bills to rein in overly-aggressive regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by making the agency more transparent and accountable.  Both bills passed with bipartisan support in the House. 

“People are sick and tired of regulations that hurt jobs and our economy, but what is more upsetting is that those regulations are often based on science and research that is never made available to the public,” said Rep. Thornberry. “These two bills seek to make the EPA more transparent and the bureaucrats who create these regulations more accountable to the American people. All of this is consistent with the transparency policy this President claims his administration operates on.”
The “Secret Science Reform Act” (H.R. 1030), which passed by a vote of 241-175 Thursday, requires the EPA to base its regulations on the best available science that is publicly available. Currently, the EPA can create regulations based on science and research that is not made publicly available.
“Many Americans are unaware that some of the EPA’s most expensive and burdensome regulations, such as its proposed ozone rules, are based on data that not even the EPA has seen. This bill ensures that the decisions that affect every American are based on independently-verified, unbiased scientific research, instead of on secret data that is hidden behind closed doors,” said House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) in a statement about the Secret Science Reform Act.
The “EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act” (H.R. 1029), which passed by a vote of 236-181 Wednesday, would require nominees to the Science Advisory Board (SAB)  to disclose financial relationships and interests -- including EPA grants, contracts or other financial assistance -- that are relevant to the board’s advisory activities. The bill would also require that at least 10 percent of the board’s membership come from state, local or tribal governments. 
“This is a good-government bill; it reflects the values we should uphold regardless of which side of the political aisle we are on. The bill recognizes the important role science should play in our policy debates and provides safeguards to give the public confidence in science. It restores the independent Science Advisory Board (SAB) as a defender of scientific integrity,” said House Science Committee Vice-Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) in a statement about the bill.
The bill would also bar the EPA administrator from appointing registered lobbyists to the board and members would be barred from participating in advisory activities that directly or indirectly review or evaluate their work, unless fully disclosed to the public and the work has been externally peer-reviewed. SAB was created in 1978 to provide independent expert advice to the EPA and Congress on scientific and technical information that may be used to justify federal regulations.