Most of the attention on Capitol Hill this week has been focused on Keystone, the NSA, and the coordinated freak-out over immigration policy, but House Republicans devoted time yesterday to an entirely different concern. They call it "secret science."
The House on Wednesday passed legislation to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing new regulations unless it provides the scientific data to justify them.
Passage of the measure, H.R. 4012, fell largely along party lines with a vote of 237-190.
The bill is part of the House GOP's package of legislation on the floor this week to limit the EPA's regulatory powers.
House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), a fierce EPA opponent, argued, "Costly environmental regulations should only be based on data that is available to independent scientists and the public." Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), the chief sponsor of the legislation, added, "If you're going to make public policy, do it by public data."
At first blush, it sounds pretty reasonable, doesn't it? Indeed, the name of the bill itself, the "Secret Science Reform Act," hardly comes across as some radical, anti-EPA proposal. The text itself simply requires the EPA to issue rules based on evidence available "in a manner that is sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results."
If you didn't know better, the proposal may even sound dull. That is, until one takes a closer look and understands what Republicans are up to.