Bill would rein in 'secret science' of the EPA

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | Monday, April 27, 2015

There’s a bill in Congress that would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from using “secret science” to impose regulations. Republicans supporting the bill say that EPA science needs to be more transparent and reproducible. Democrats that want the bill withdrawn say it would harm efforts to protect public health.

The House of Representatives passed its version of the Secret Science Reform Act, HR1030, in March. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is set to mark up various pieces of legislation on Tuesday, April 28, and its version of the Secret Science Reform Act, S544, is on the agenda.

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., introduced S544 in February, with Senate EPW Committee Chairman James Inhofe, R-Okla., Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., among the seven cosponsors.

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, introduced the House version also in February and it has 28 cosponsors. The House passed an amended version of the bill by a vote of 241-175.

Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., ranking member of the Senate EPW Committee, top a list of senators opposed to the bill.

They sent a letter urging Inhofe to withdraw the bill from the EPW markup on Tuesday and to schedule a time to discuss the bill in regular order.

“A bill that evokes such serious concerns deserves to be scrutinized through a legislative hearing in advance of its mark up,” Markey and Boxer stated.

The EPA regulates tailpipe emissions and fuel economy in vehicles. EPA’s tailpipe mandates from 2004 through 2010 added at least $21,000 to the average cost of a new heavy-duty truck according to the American Truck Dealers, part of the National Automobile Dealers Association. That number does not take into account the ongoing maintenance costs for the extra technology and equipment.

EPA, along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, teamed up to issue the first-ever comprehensive greenhouse gas emission and fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks in 2011. That rule targets a 20 percent reduction in emissions and 20 percent improvement in fuel economy during a 2014-2018 window. That regulation is known as GHG Phase I.

The agencies are getting closer to issuing GHG Phase II to further regulate emissions and fuel economy beyond model year 2018.

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