Bills Would Change How the EPA Operates

The U.S. House of Representatives today voted to pass H.R. 4795, the Promoting New Manufacturing Act, with a vote of 238-172. The bill is set to help cut red tape associated with building new factories that use natural gas by reducing permitting delays, ensuring the EPA provides timely guidance about how to comply with new or revised air quality standards affecting the permit application.

Two other bills, H.R. 4012, the Secret Science Act of 2014, and H.R. 1422, the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2013, have also passed the House that would further change the way the EPA operates.

H.R. 4012, which passed the House in a 237-190 vote, requires the EPA to issue rulings based on evidence available “in a manner that is sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results,” according to the bill. The point of the bill is to ensure that any decision made by the EPA, that affects public health, uses information publically available. Opponents of H.R. 4012 say that this would exclude large amounts of raw data from hospitals that involve patient records, which cannot be made public.

The third bill, H.R. 1422, which passed with a vote of 229-191, would require more scientists with industry experience be involved in the EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB). The SAB was established in order to evaluate whether or not the best science is being used in the agency’s decisions. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), the bill’s sponsor, says that the bill is meant to offer “valuable insight and valuable guidance” from industry experts. The 51 member SAB currently includes 3 industry experts.

The White House has said that these bills would force unnecessary requirements on the EPA and hamper its ability to work effectively. All three bills are unlikely to pass a Democratic Senate, but with Republicans set to take control next year, the EPA could face more new legislation as the GOP looks to do away with regulations that members believe are hurting the economy.

Even if the bills do manage to pass the lame duck Senate, the White House has said that the president will not approve them, The Hill reports. With Senators like James Inhofe (R-OK), the expected head of the subcommittee overseeing the EPA, looking to add oversight to the agency, continued political gridlock is expected.

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