Yesterday, while the Keystone Extremely Lethal (KXL) pipeline was failing passage in the Senate, the US House was passing, HR1422, The EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act. 225 Republicans and 4 Republicans sporting Democratic credentials [Barrow (GA), Matheson (UT), Peterson (MN), and Rahall (WV)] voted AYE. Only ONE Republican broke from the rightwing pack and voted against this first of three bills [Gibson (NY19)] which are aimed at thumbing their noses at Scientists and preventing the EPA from being able to issue ANY new regulations.
It’s not enough that the GOP House believes that 3% of Climate Scientists constitutes a MAJORITY, or that 33% of Americans who either deny or have no clue whether Climate Change is a reality. Now, they’re claiming they’ll be restoring “accountability” to the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board by erecting roadblocks and muzzling them, basically making it harder for Scientific experts to serve on the Board and instead making it easier to pack the Board with “industry experts.” But worse—those excluded Scientific Experts would be prohibited from talking about their research with Administrators of the EPA. In making these changes (demanded by their corporate masters), the GOP claims enactment of this bill would increase the Board’s “effectiveness and transparency.” HUH? I do believe it will accomplish the antithesis of all three: accountability, effectiveness AND transparency.
Thomas.gov summarizes the bill’s provisions as follows:
EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2013 – Amends the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978 to revise the process of selecting members of the Science Advisory Board, guidelines for participation in Board advisory activities, and terms of office. (The Board provides scientific advice to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA].) Prohibits federally registered lobbyists from being appointed to the Board.
Revises the procedures for providing advice and comments to the Administrator by: (1) including risk or hazard assessments in the regulatory proposals and documents made available to the Board, and (2) requiring advice and comments to be included in the record regarding any such proposal and published in the Federal Register.
Revises the operation of Board member committees and investigative panels to: (1) require that they operate in accordance with the membership, participation, and policy requirements (including new requirements for public participation in advisory activities of the Board) contained in this Act; (2) deny them authority to make decisions on behalf of the Board; and (3) prohibit direct reporting to EPA.
Adds guidelines for the conduct of Board advisory activities, including concerning: (1) avoidance of making policy determinations or recommendations, (2) communication of uncertainties, (3) dissenting members’ views, and (4) periodic reviews to ensure that such activities address the most important scientific issues affecting EPA.
Prohibits this Act from being construed as supplanting the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act or the Ethics in Government Act of 1978.
As I read the bill, it looks to me like they’re planning to mitigate any real scientific expertise on the board by packing the advisory committees (the hen house) with those whom the EPA regulates (the foxes), in other words, “industry experts” with profit motives. The White House, which threatened to veto the bill, said it would “negatively affect the appointment of experts and would weaken the scientific independence and integrity of the EPA Science Advisory Board .” Sadly, “academic scientists who know the most about a subject under review can’t weigh in, but experts paid by corporations who want to block regulations can” — Union of Concerned Scientists director Andrew A. Rosenberg in an editorial for RollCall.
Rep. Mark Amodei, who supposedly represents ALL constituents of Nevada’s congressional district 2, voted FOR passage. Should this bill become law, which I seriously doubt it would, there is a large cadre of his constituents throughout this district engaged in agriculture-related activities. They depend on ample supplies of clean water and lands to graze their animals. As water becomes scarcer, and as climate effects begin curtailing their grazing rights and impacting their wallets, maybe then folks across the district will finally have to re-evaluate the wisdom of voting for the Republicans, who serve only as minions of their Corporate masters.
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