Thursday, December 4, 2014

Republicans Pass Anti-Science Bill in the House

Republicans in the House of Representatives have passed a bill that would keep the EPA from using science to inform and support their policy positions. Republicans have a long history of resisting science particularly when its serves their partisan interests. However, with this new bill they have sunk to a new low as few pieces of legislation are as blatently anti-science as this one.

In November the House passed a bill that would limit the type of scientific research available to the EPA for crafting regulations. The bill deceptively named the Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 passed in the House with a vote of 237 to 190. While the legislation purports to restrict the EPA's use of science that is "hidden and flawed" it is actually an attempt to undermine access to things like medical research which guarantees that the medical records of those who participate are kept confidential.

"Some of the best real-world public health research, which relies on patient data like hospital admissions, would be excluded from consideration because personal data could not, and should not, be made public," wrote Union of Concerned Scientists director Andrew Rosenberg. "Demanding public release of full raw data the agency cannot legally disclose is simply a way to accuse the agency of hiding something when it has nothing to hide."

The White House explained the Republican's efforts this way, "In short, the bill would undermine EPA’s ability to protect the health of Americans, would impose expensive new mandates on EPA, and could impose substantial litigation costs on the Federal government...It also could impede EPA’s reliance on the best available science."

Clearly, depriving the EPA of access to the best science is the real goal of the House bill. While their crusade against science driven policy is hardly a secret, passing legislation to restrict government agencies from taking informed positions seems extreme even for them.

This legislation is a thinly veiled assault against the EPA. It may be best understood as an attack against the wealth of scientific evidence that shows why environmental protections and efforts to combat climate change are so important. Given their support for the fossil fuel industry, Republicans are at odds with the vast array of scientific data that shows how burning carbon is destructive to the environment and human health.

Republican actions are explained by the fact that they are beholden to the fossil fuel industry at the expense of the health of Americans and the national interest. Simply put, Republicans are afraid of science because it refutes their convoluted web of lies.

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