In March 2017, a bill ironically called the HONEST Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill purports to create greater transparency surrounding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) use of scientific studies by requiring that all the research and data utilized by the agency be made publically available. But the HONEST Act misrepresents how the scientific process actually works and would have severe negative consequences. The bill would actually stop EPA from using the best available scientific information when developing regulations while providing polluters more ammunition to contest new regulations. The HONEST Act is actually just one more way for industrial polluters to hamstring EPA and insert themselves into regulations that might force them to curtail their polluting practices.
Now, the House version of the HONEST Act has a Senate companion bill, which means it is even closer to becoming law. If the HONEST Act becomes law, it would completely change the way EPA collects the information it needs to promulgate well-informed regulations. EPA would be restricted in what data it is able to use, wasting staff time and taxpayer money. The act would also force researchers to choose between working with EPA and protecting the confidential information they need to publish original research, secure grants, and continue their contributions to scientific innovation. Leading scientific organizations have spoken out against the HONEST Act, on the grounds that it would have severe negative consequences for the scientific process.
In addition to these negative consequences, the HONEST Act claims to fix a problem that does not exist. EPA has historically used peer-reviewed data and has been very transparent about how it develops its regulations. The HONEST Act is a nothing more than a well-disguised attempt to make it harder for EPA protect our health and environment while giving polluters more tools to stop or slow down rules.
This week, we ask you to help keep politics out of the scientific process by calling your Senators and asking them to oppose the HONEST Act:
“My name is [YOUR NAME] and I am a resident of zip code [ZIP CODE]. I am calling today to express my concerns about Senate Bill 1794, ironically called the ‘HONEST Act.’ While sponsors of the HONEST Act claim that it promotes transparency, it will actually make it much harder for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to use sound, peer-reviewed science to implement safeguards for our air, water, land, and communities. I believe that EPA needs access to the best available scientific data and studies. Requiring that all these data be made public would present an incredible burden for researchers and would hamstring EPA. The HONEST Act would inject politics into science, waste taxpayer money on needless regulatory hurdles and put public health at risk. For these reasons, I ask that you oppose Senate Bill 1794.”
*Photo courtesy San Francisco Baykeeper