House Bills Would Undermine Science, Cripple Public Health and Safety Protections

Statement by Andrew Rosenberg, Director, Center for Science and Democracy,Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Mar 28, 2017

WASHINGTON (March 28, 2017)—This week, the U.S. House will vote on two bills that would constrain the science federal agencies can use to set policy, making it far more difficult to enforce laws meant to protect public health, safety and the environment. The “HONEST Act” will go to the House floor Wednesday, March 29, and the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act will get a vote Thursday, March 30. These bills have a deceptive premise and destructive results, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS.

“These bills won’t advance good science. Instead, they will prevent public health and environmental laws from being implemented and enforced. Under the pretense of improving transparency and accountability, they would prevent the EPA from using science to inform their policies.

“The so-called ‘HONEST Act’ is a Trojan-horse transparency bill that, among other things, would make it harder for the EPA to use public health studies to finalize science-based public health protections. That makes no sense. The scientific studies are already carefully peer-reviewed and available to the public and it’s baseless to claim that the science is ‘secret’ because raw data are not released.

“The Science Advisory Board Reform Act would undermine the EPA’s ability to get the best independent scientific advice. It would throw up pointless burdens to deter experts from public service, and create new opportunities for industries and special interests to interfere with science. It turns the idea of conflict of interest upside-down, by discouraging scientists whose work is federally supported and encouraging corporate-funded experts in the name of ‘balance.’

“These bills aren’t just an attack on the integrity of scientists. They are an attack on the popular, long-standing laws that are supposed to keep Americans safe and healthy. There’s no ‘reform’ here. What these bills would really do is make the EPA powerless to carry out the job it’s supposed to do—using science to protect public health and the environment. That’s going to put Americans at risk, especially black and Latino communities and low-income neighborhoods that are the most exposed to pollution.

“This is a cynical attack on the ability to use science to inform policy, and we’d be worse off if the bills become law.”