Vote Explanation for H.R. 1430 — Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment (HONEST) Act of 2017
Over the past few months, we have witnessed an unprecedented assault on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by the Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans. From the confirmation of a climate-change denier, Scott Pruitt, as the EPA Administrator, to rolling back federal regulations that keep our streams and rivers clean, these actions are dangerous to our health and the future of our planet.
That is why I voted against H.R. 1430, the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment (HONEST) Act, which is anything but honest and would undermine the peer-reviewed scientific research that the EPA relies on to carry out its mission. This legislation would require that all raw data, models, code, and other materials from scientific studies be made available to the public before the EPA could use it for regulatory action. However, many of the studies done at the EPA require personal health information and other confidential data legally protected from disclosure.
Under H.R. 1430, this sensitive data can be accessed by anyone who the EPA Administrator deems worthy to access this confidential information. Consequently, researchers may have difficulty getting individuals to participate in the types of studies that are necessary to understand air and water quality issues due to a fear that their medical records could be made public at the discretion of the Administrator. If the EPA cannot use peer-reviewed scientific research, industry-funded studies — think Big Oil — intended to bias the body of scientific evidence regarding a specific issue would become the bulk of what the EPA is allowed to consider.
Far from “honest,” this bill is a backhanded way to take science out of the EPA, handcuffing the agency from using critical information necessary to follow through on statutorily required rulemaking for legislation like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. At the end of the day, it’s American citizens who will suffer from unscientific regulations that cater to big industry at the expense of the air we breathe and the water we drink. While I support meaningful regulatory reform, data and science should never be compromised to push a political agenda.