House to Consider Partisan Anti-Science Bills Aimed at Hamstringing EPA

Nov 17, 2014
House to Consider Partisan Anti-Science Bills Aimed at Hamstringing EPA

(Washington, DC) – This week the House will consider three particularly partisan bills, two of which previously passed out of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. The two bills considered at the Committee, were strongly opposed by the Democratic Members. These bills represent another installment in the ongoing attempt by the Majority to hamstring the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as it attempts to carry out its mission.

Republicans will claim that H.R. 4012, the Secret Science Reform Act increases EPA’s transparency, but in reality it is an attempt to prevent EPA from using the best science to protect public health and the environment. This bill would prohibit EPA from relying on scientific studies that involve personal health information or other data that is legally protected from public disclosure. Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) characterized the bill by saying, “Any effort to limit the scope of science that can be considered by EPA does not strengthen scientific integrity, but instead undermines it.”

Furthermore, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that this bill will cost taxpayers $1 billion over the next four years. House Republicans’ desire to move such a costly bill signals that they are willing to set aside their concerns about the deficit when it is politically convenient.

H.R. 1422, the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act, serves the interests of industry by making it easier for industry-affiliated scientists to serve on EPA’s Science Advisory Board. At the same time, this bill makes it harder for academic scientists to provide their expertise to EPA, increasing the likelihood that industry experts—those with obvious financial conflicts of interest—will be able to skew the recommendations of the Board. The bill would also create needless and endless delays in the scientific review process, allowing industry more time to halt, derail, or slow EPA actions that seek to protect public health.

Despite its title, H.R. 4795, the Promoting New Manufacturing Act, does nothing to boost manufacturing in the United States. Instead, this bill creates a loophole in the law, allowing new facilities to obtain permits under old, less protective air quality standards, thereby allowing some facilities to emit extra pollution at levels that could harm public health. By allowing new facilities to pollute more than their fair share, this bill actually imposes new costs on the manufacturing sector that would disproportionately impact areas struggling to clean up their air from existing sources.

Ranking Member Johnson said, “These bills are the culmination of one of the most anti-science and anti-health campaigns I’ve witnessed in my 22 years as a member of Congress. As someone who worked in public health before I entered politics, I can think of no mission of the federal government that is more important or noble than EPA’s mission to “protect human health and the environment.” I am hopeful that Congress can get past this misguided and disingenuous war on the dedicated scientists and public servants of the EPA, and that we can come together to advance our economy and a cleaner environment and healthier public.”

The White House released a Statement of Administration Policy for each of the three bills. In these statements the Administration expresses its strong opposition to the legislation and makes clear that the President’s senior advisors would recommend the President veto each bill if necessary.

The Ranking Member is strongly urging her colleagues to oppose these harmful bills as they are considered on the floor this week.