— Official News Release —
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill cosponsored by Congressman Kevin Cramer to reform the Science Advisory Board (SAB), which plays a crucial role in reviewing the scientific foundation of regulatory decisions by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Shortcomings in the SAB have been widely reported, including a lack of public participation during meetings, the exclusion of state and private sector expertise, and a potential conflict of interest with the EPA.
“For too long, the Science Advisory Board has acted more like an extra arm of the EPA rather than the independent scientific review panel it was intended to be. This legislation will make the Board more transparent by reinforcing peer-review requirements, limiting non-scientific policy advice and recommendations, and strengthening public participation and comment opportunities. This is just one step in the long road to an acceptably transparent and accountable EPA,” said Cramer.
According to the Congressional Research Service, 34 of 58 members of the key EPA advisory panels have also received grants from the EPA since 2000 totaling roughly $140 million in taxpayer dollars. The research they are reviewing is often directly related to the money they receive. In addition, many panel members have made strong public statements advocating specific policies, while also being relied upon for impartial scientific advice.
The EPA has also attempted to use the SAB to help implement the Waters of the U.S. Rule, which would grant the federal government unprecedented regulatory authority over nearly all bodies of water including small ponds, creeks, ditches, and other occasionally wet areas, including those found on private property. At a hearing of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee on July 9, Congressman Cramer asked EPA Deputy Administrator Robert Perciasepe if he believes the law allows the EPA to intercept questions from the committee to the Science Advisory Board, but the Deputy Administrator refused to answer the question.
The Science Advisory Board Reform Act will:
- Strengthen public participation and public comment opportunities
- Reduce conflicts of interest by reinforcing peer review requirements
- Broaden debate by increasing the ability of dissenting panelists to make their views known
- Requiring uncertainties in scientific findings and research to be disclosed
On Monday evening, President Obama issued a veto threat for the legislation.