CAPITOL HILL – Republicans in Congress are having a second go at a measure they say will increase transparency of federal environmental regulations.
On March 29, the House of Representatives voted 228-194 to pass the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act (HONEST Act), which prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency from proposing an action, including a new regulation, unless the scientific and technical information used to make that decision is “the best available science; specifically identified; and publicly available online in a manner that is sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results.”
Both Maryland Reps. Anthony Brown (D-4) and Steny Hoyer (D-5) voted against the measure.
Brown said he views the bill as part of a larger effort to undermine the EPA.
“Politicians shouldn’t be telling scientists how to do their research. That’s why I voted against the GOP bill to restrict the EPA’s ability to use science to protect public health and the environment,” he said. “This partisan effort will impede the EPA from using the best available science, harm their ability to conduct future research, will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year and makes it much easier for industry to pollute.”
On the floor, Democrats’ main argument was the same: They feel the bill is a stealth attempt to “hamstring the ability of the EPA to do anything to protect the American public,” according to Texas Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-30).
Democrats also brought up privacy concerns. The bill does require that any personal data or trade secrets be redacted from the publicly available documents, but the EPA administrator has the ability to authorize individuals to view the full versions.