Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the chairman of the House science committee, appeared to reject concerns from Democrats and their witness with the substance of an upcoming bill he is expected to advance seeking transparency in EPA’s scientific process, arguing that medical privacy concerns are easily addressed and information that EPA uses for decision-making should be publicly available.
As introduced in 2015, the so-called secret science bill’s intent was to require EPA to use the “best available,” reproducible science in developing rules and make all data underlying its rules publicly available. Such a mandate can be challenging with some of the data that EPA relies on, such as epidemiological data and medical records, or even data with certain copyright protections.
The agency’s critics argued the legislation, H.R. 1030, would resolve their long-running claims that the agency withholds important data that it uses to justify potentially expensive rules, such as its 2015 decision to tighten the ozone national ambient air quality standard from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb and its fine particle (PM2.5) standards.
Reforming EPA’s scientific methods is a priority for Smith and other agency critics, who see it as essential to rolling back the agency’s regulatory standards.