Time To End The ‘Secret Science’ At The EPA




” Here’s an interesting fact: Scientists hoping to be published in the journal Science are told in advance that they must agree to make available “all data necessary to understand and assess the conclusions of the manuscript.” The stipulation is commonplace in the scientific and academic communities, where research results must be transparent and reproducible to be credible.

  That’s supposed to be the way it is for the federal government, too. Here’s how the policy is described by the Administrative Conference of the United States: Federal officials are expected, to the maximum extent possible, to “identify and make publicly available (on the agency website or some other widely available forum) references to the scientific literature, underlying data, models, and research results that it considered. In so doing, the agency should list all information upon which it relied in reaching its conclusions, as well as any information material to the scientific analysis that it considered but upon which it ultimately did not rely.”

  Unfortunately, “secret science” is the norm at the Environmental Protection Agency, according to witnesses at Tuesday’s hearing of a subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. As the committee’s chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, said, “Transparency and independent verification are basic tenants of science and must inform sound environmental policy. When the EPA does not follow these basic steps, it fails in its obligation to the American people and raises suspicions about whether its regulations can be justified.” “


   The notion of transparency in government has amounted to nothing but talk in recent years and nowhere is that more evident than in the regulatory morass that is Obama’s EPA . As the Wall Street Journal notes :


” The federal government has no business justifying regulations with secret information. This principle has been supported by two of the president’s own science and technology advisers, John Holdren and Deborah Swackhamer. “The data on which regulatory decisions and other decisions are based should be made available to the committee and should be made public,” said Dr. Holdren in testimony before the committee last year. Executive-branch rules dating to the Clinton administration require that federally funded research data be made publicly available, especially if it is used for regulatory purposes.”


   While the rules are plain enough , even for government workers to understand , transparency is difficult if not impossible to come by in the world of the EPA .