Thursday, March 19, 2015

House passes bill aimed at EPA's 'secret science;' Democrats say study subjects' privacy threatened

Despite threats of a presidential veto, the Republican-led House on Wednesday passed a bill "that aims to increase public scrutiny of the scientific research behind Environmental Protection Agency regulations," Timothy Cama and Cristina Marcos report for The Hill. The bill, which passed by a 241-175 vote, "would prohibit the EPA from using so-called 'secret science' to justify its rules."

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chair of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, would require EPA "to make public the details of all the research upon which its rules rely," Cama and Marcos write. "If a rule’s science isn’t made public, the EPA would not be allowed to write the rule."

Smith told reporters that EPA has “relied on studies with data that was not publicly available. This raises a lot of suspicions.” Democrats "argue that the bill would force the EPA to release confidential personal information about the participants in scientific research," Cama and Marcos report. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), the top Democrat on the committee, told reporters, "What my Republican colleagues are calling secrets [is] actually confidential, personal health information from research study participants. Disclosure of this kind of information would be a major breach of faith with hundreds of thousands of research participants who volunteered to enter these types of public health studies." (Read more)

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