Last Tuesday, while the Senate put to vote the Keystone XL pipeline, the House of Representatives was busy passing H.R. 1422, a bill that will prohibit environmental scientists from advising the EPA on their own research.
The House voted 229-191 to pass the bill, without one democrat voting in support. The bill, also called the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2013, will change the rules for appointing members to the Science Advisory Board (SAB), making it easier for scientists with financial ties to corporations to serve on the SAB while prohibiting independent scientists from talking about their own research on the board.
The SAB provides scientific advice to the EPA.
According to Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), the purpose of the bill is to increase transparency and accountability to the EPA's scientific advisers, saying currently the board “excludes industry experts, but not officials for environmental advocacy groups.”
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) says, “It benefits no one but the industry, and it harms public health” because “in reality, the bill would allow the board to be staked with industry representatives, making it more difficult for academics to serve.”
The White House has acknowledged the bill and said it would veto the bill if passed because it would “negatively affect the appointment of experts and weaken the scientific independence and integrity of the SAB.”