10.03.18

Rounds Opening Statement at EPW Subcommittee Hearing on the EPA’s Use of Sound and Transparent Science

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight, today delivered his opening statement at a hearing entitled “Oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Implementation of Sound and Transparent Science in Regulation.”

“The EPA has a long history of creating burdensome, unnecessary regulations without giving the public an opportunity to fully vet the reasoning behind their decisions,” said Rounds. “Sound, reliable science is vital to helping us make important policy decisions that impact not just the health of American families but their livelihoods. We should welcome vigorous debate on the science the EPA relies upon. Doing so will result in regulations that have the greatest benefit to human health and the environment while doing the least harm to the economy. It will also result in regulations that can withstand legal challenges, providing industry with a level of certainty that allows them to make long-term investment decisions.”

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery:

The Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight is meeting today to conduct a hearing entitled “Oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Implementation of Sound and Transparent Science in Regulation.”

Today, we will hear testimony from experts and members of the scientific community in order to explore opportunities for greater transparency and the use of the best available science at the EPA.

Regulations created by the EPA help to protect the American people from tainted water, dirty air and chemical exposure.

The essential work completed by the EPA should always have as its basis protecting human health and the environment.

However, in the past, I have been concerned that the broad discretion and lack of transparency at the EPA has led the agency to seek out the science that supports a predetermined policy outcome, rather than relying upon the best available science before coming to conclusions.

Failing to do so results in regulations that overly burden our economy without having a substantial impact on human health or environmental protection.

On April 30th, 2018, the EPA published a proposed rule entitled “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science.” This proposed rule would require the EPA to identify what science they used to come to regulatory decisions, and make those studies available to the public without compromising privacy protections.

The proposed rule would also require the EPA to take into account high quality studies that challenge current scientific assumptions.

The proposal seeks to accomplish this without excluding historically relied upon studies by allowing the EPA Administrator to waive certain data access requirements on a case-by-case basis.

I thank the EPA for taking this important step and look forward to hearing from our witnesses today about the proposed rule.

In addition, on September 12th, 2017, I introduced S. 1794, the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act, commonly referred to as the HONEST Act.

Companion legislation, H.R. 1430, was also introduced by Representative Lamar Smith.

The HONEST Act passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support on March 29th, 2017. Both bills have been referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

The HONEST Act would prohibit the EPA from proposing, finalizing or disseminating regulations or guidance unless all scientific and technical information relied on to support those actions is based on the best available science.

The bill also requires this information to be specifically identified and publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results.

Finally, the HONEST Act requires the EPA to redact sensitive information such as personally identifiable information, trade secrets or commercial or financial information.

It has been suggested by some that the EPA is incapable of providing greater scientific transparency because of privacy concerns.

We have a responsibility to be sensitive to that issue, in part because we do not want to dissuade individuals from participating in environmental studies

I believe the EPA should use as a model the privacy protections already used by other federal agencies, including the de-identification protocols employed by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The EPA has a long history of creating burdensome, unnecessary regulations without giving the public an opportunity to fully vet the reasoning behind their decisions.

We should all agree with providing greater transparency if it can be done without excluding legitimate scientific studies or compromising privacy.

This is especially true if we can turn to other agencies like the National Institutes of Health for guidance on best practices.

Sound, reliable science is vital to helping us make important policy decisions that impact not just the health of American families but their livelihoods.

We should welcome vigorous debate on the science the EPA relies upon.

Doing so will result in regulations that have the greatest benefit to human health and the environment while doing the least harm to the economy.

It will also result in regulations that can withstand legal challenges, providing industry with a level of certainty that allows them to make long-term investment decisions.

I’d like to thank our witnesses for being here with us today and I look forward to hearing your testimony.  

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