You've got to at least respect the cunning of the oil industry buddies in Congress who are pushing a pair of bills aimed at restricting the EPA: They've given their bills names that Frank Luntz would just love -- the "Secret Science Reform Act" and the "Science Advisory Board Reform Act." Those sound nice! After all, science shouldn't be secret, it should be open and transparent! And we definitely want to make sure that Congress gets good advice on using science, don't we? Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas and Texas Rep. Lamar Smith just care about the people having input on government, as long as the people you're talking about have names like Exxon/Mobil and Shell.


As Yr Wonkette noted the last time this nonsense rolled around, the gist of the Republican complaints about "Secret Science" is that they want to bar the EPA from making any rules based on science where the raw data isn't 100 percent a matter of public record. And again, that sounds like a very noble goal -- who wants science that's hidden away so we can't look at it, huh?

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Of course, the real goal isn't to promote transparency. The real goal is to keep the EPA from using studies on health effects of pollutants and so on, which of necessity involve the use of medical data -- which is protected from disclosure:

With the “Secret Science” bill, for example, approximately 50 scientific societies and universities said the requirements could prohibit many large-scale public health studies because their data “could not realistically be reproduced.” In addition, many studies use private medical data, trade secrets, and industry data that cannot legally be made public.

Republicans in support of the bill assure that the data within the studies can still be used without disclosing personal information or trade secrets. But it wouldn’t be cheap for those studies to meet the bill’s requirements. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reports that the EPA relies on approximately 50,000 scientific studies per year, and that meeting the goals of the House “Secret Science” bill would cost between $10,000 and $30,000 per study.

Why, a cynic might almost think the goal is less about openness and accountability than it is to just plain make sure the Environmental Protection Agency doesn't use science that might Protect the Environment.

The Science Advisory Board Reform Act would have one heck of a fine reform, too. It would allow scientists who work for industry to serve on the board that reviews the science used in setting EPA regulations, because after all, if you exclude the polluters' representatives, as the current rules do, you're deliberately silencing the important voices of people who have been paid to explain why toxic sludge is good for us. And isn't America all about free speech?

This is the second attempt to pass the bills; while they both passed in the House last year, the obstructionist Democratic Senate refused to consider them. But now that Republicans are in charge, with ugly bag of mostly petroleum donations Sen. James Inhofe heading the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, it's far more likely that both will get a more enthusiastic greeting this time around. There's still the fact that Barack Obama is inconveniently in a position to veto them if they pass, as he planned to do last time around, so there's at least that backstop.

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But in the meantime, get ready for lots of complaints about how the EPA is hiding stuff from us, all so it can destroy jobs and force us to ride bicycles, just like UN Agenda 21 wants us to.

[ThinkProgress]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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