The U.S. EPA has been using "secret science," one House Committee continues to suggest, now introducing a bill that will make the agency turn over the data on which it bases its regulations.
The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology approved the bill, the Secret Science Reform Act of 2014, earlier this week, charging that the EPA's regulatory process is "both hidden and flawed."
The bill comes after several years of wrangling with the issue in hearings and correspondence with the agency.
The Committee has received letters in support of the bill from more than 80 scientists, it says, along with 30 trade associations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the former head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and the former head of EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee.
"[The EPA's regulatory process] hides the data and then handpicks scientists to review it. The American people foot the bill for the EPA's billion dollar regulations and they have the right to see the underlying data," says Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas.
"If the EPA has nothing to hide, and if their data really justifies their regulations, why not make the information public? Data sharing is becoming increasingly common across scientific disciplines," he added.
The legislation requires that EPA science be available for validation and replication, "ensuring transparency and accountability," Smith says. It does not require any disclosure of confidential information, the Committee suggests, and provisions in the bill are consistent with the White House's scientific integrity policy.
Concerns of EPA not fully releasing data have also surfaced in the ongoing discussion surrounding its revised definition of Waters of the United States, closely watched by ag interests.
In May, the Waters Advocacy Coalition released a review of the EPA's economic analysis of its proposed "waters" rule change, finding that some calculations and basic assumptions used in the analysis were unavailable to the public.
The EPA's analysis, review author and University of California-Berkley faculty member Dr. David Sunding, said, "suffers from a lack of transparency."
The American Farm Bureau, which supported the WAC review along with several other groups, has been running an awareness campaign regarding the rule change, which it has dubbed a "land grab" that could restrict how farmers manage and care for their land.