Last week, the House voted 237-190, passing the Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 (H.R. 4012).
The bill amends the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978, to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating regulations or assessments without making supporting scientific and technical data publically available. In a House Rules Committee meeting, Representative Susan Bonamici [D-OR] stated the bill would “impede the EPA’s ability to perform its most fundamental duty – protecting public health and the environment”. The House also approved an amendment, introduced by Paul Gosar [R-AZ], making all scientific and technical information used for rulemaking available online. This summer, Ocean Leadership cosigned a letter to the House Majority Whip, expressing concerns over the bill’s possible unintended consequences, including its potential to constrain the EPA’s activities. “The bill concerns me not only about the interference in the protection of public health but also the harm it would do to science and the science process,” said Congressman Rush Holt (D-NY) who is departing Congress at the end of the year to head AAAS. The President opposes the bill and intends to veto it, stating concerns that H.R. 4012 could “impede EPA’s reliance on the best available science”, and “prevent EPA from making crucial decisions”. The Senate is not expected to consider the measure.