February 24, 2015

Manchin, Boozman Aim to Bring Transparency Fairness to EPA Science Review Process

Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and John Boozman (R-AR) today introduced legislation to improve confidence in the fairness and transparency of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations and rulemaking by reforming the science advisory process.

The EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act makes changes to the Science Advisory Board (SAB) by increasing transparency, enabling SAB reviews of EPA “risk or hazard assessments” that are used to justify regulations, ensuring that the dissenting views of scientists on review panels are not silenced, standardizing the SAB member selection process to make it consistent with practices at the National Academies and other federal agencies, limiting non-scientific policy advice, increasing SAB disclosures, and eliminating SAB conflicts of interest.

“The EPA’s overreaching regulations have resulted in an environment that is too closed off to the public and too vulnerable to conflicts of interest and insider politics,” Manchin said. “The EPA should improve its credibility with the American people as well as our energy sector, and this bipartisan legislation makes sure that the EPA is held accountable for creating fair, unbiased, and science-based rules and regulations. It is past time to strengthen EPA transparency, and this bipartisan, commonsense legislation does just that.”

“The EPA’s regulatory process is flawed, yet many outstanding scientists have participated in or wish to contribute to the agency’s scientific review process,” Boozman said. “Our legislation will make the agency more transparent and open, while empowering scientists to do their work and express their views without undue interference. Regulations that are carefully reviewed for scientific integrity enable the protection of clean and water, without forcing unnecessary burdens onto the middle and low-income families who pay the highest costs for regulations and mandates.”

The SAB was established by the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978 (ERDDA) to provide scientific advice upon the request of the EPA Administrator and Congressional Committees, but improvements need to be made.

This legislation:

• Strengthens public participation and comment opportunities;
• Modernizes the selection of Science Advisory Board (SAB) and sub-panel members;
• Eliminates conflicts of interest and increasing disclosures;
• Expands the ability of SAB members to express dissenting views;
• Enables SAB reviews of EPA “risk or hazard assessments”; and
• Limits non-scientific policy advice.

Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK) introduced a companion bill in the House. Similar legislation passed the House with bipartisan support last congress.