It’s Time to Ensure EPA Bases Regulations on Public Data

The Environmental Protection Agency, like every other government institution, should be accountable to the American people. Everyone agrees that we need to protect our environment, but we should do so in a way that is honest and relies on good science.

The EPA is moving forward with new, multi-billion dollar air quality regulations that are expected to be some of the most costly in U.S. history. Among the EPA’s new rules are strict limits on ozone, a subject the Science Committee examined in a hearing yesterday.

We should all be concerned about the process the EPA uses to reach their conclusions. We heard from witnesses that implementation of the new ozone rule will cost billions of dollars and adversely affect many Americans. Yet, the EPA relied on studies with data that is not publicly available. This raises a lot of suspicions.

It is Congress’s responsibility to ensure that these regulations are necessary, effective and responsible. We cannot do our job if the EPA bases regulations on data that is not available to Congress or the public.

Time and again, this administration has eroded the American people’s trust with costly, ineffective, overreaching government programs based on political agendas. This is all the more reason that costly environmental regulations should be based upon data available to independent scientists and the public, and that can be verified. Regulations should not be based on undisclosed data.

American taxpayers have a right to see the data and determine for themselves if these regulations are based on sound science or a partisan agenda.

But American taxpayers and Congress are not the only ones who have been left in the dark. The data in question have not been subjected to scrutiny and analysis by independent scientists. This third-party review process is necessary to ensure that the information being used is both scientifically sound and beneficial to the American people.

The federal government should not justify regulations with secret information. A poll from the Institute of Energy Research found that 90 percent of Americans agree that studies and data used to make federal government decisions should be public. And the Chair of EPA’s own Science Advisory Board also said the data EPA relies upon should be public.

We should continue to look for ways to protect our environment. But these efforts must be open and transparent. Ensuring public access to taxpayer funded-data supports good science and good government.

The Secret Science Reform Act is about more than data. It’s about an agency that apparently doesn’t trust the public. The EPA thinks it knows better than the American people what’s good for them.

It’s time to change that mindset. And it’s past time to ensure that the EPA bases their regulations on data that is public.

This bill supports the President’s commitment to open science. But now he threatens to veto it. It makes you wonder – what is the administration trying to hide?

Our goal is to help advance not just any science, but the best science. If this administration is serious about its promise to be the most transparent in history, then it should support H.R. 1030.

The American people deserve a government that works for them. And they have a right to see the data that the government says justifies their regulations.

— Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)

Rep. Lamar Smith represents the 21st District of Texas and is chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

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