As if Trump’s proposed 30% budget cut for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wasn’t enough, the House of Representatives launched another broadside against the use of rational science in determining environmental policy by passing HR 1430, the so-called Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act, or HONEST Act, requiring that the agency only use publicly available and reproducible scientific data as the basis for implementing new regulations. According to Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican and House Science Committee Chair who introduced the bill, Obama’s EPA routinely “hid” the data it used in crafting regulations, preventing public and peer scrutiny to ensure the use of the best available science.
But environmentalists argue that EPA isn’t overly secretive with its data, insisting that the agency often doesn’t own the information it accesses in crafting regulations and therefore has no right to release it to the public. They worry that if the legislation makes it through the Senate, it would open up the door for industry lobbyists and EPA-hating politicians to delay or block the setting of policy based on credible, if unreleasable, research and data.
The Trump administration has started to make good on its campaign promises to reduce federal environmental overreach and get the nation out of its greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments — all in the name of jobs creation and economic stimulus. Now Congress is starting to step in and add environmental insult to injury. Concerned citizens still can weigh in on the issue, but the pressure might have to be on your Senators this time around as the ship just sailed through the House.
The Trump administration is well on its way to dismantling the environmental progress of the Obama administration, whether we like it or not. While there might not be much we can do about changing the President’s mind on the issues, we can make our voices heard and let our elected representatives know how much we care about environmental protections — and that we’ll be watching them closely especially as the mid-term elections approach.