In a recent poll, it was reported that 57 percent of the American People believe in Climate Change and that man has a hand in causing it. That same poll indicated that the majority of the American People wants Congress to do something about cleaning up our carbon emissions.
Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader McConnell have said time and again that the Republicans only want to listen to the American People. Congress has listened to the American People. Not that they intend to act on the people’s wishes if they are in disagreement with the Republican agenda.
On Tuesday, while the Keystone XL Pipeline was going down to defeat in the Senate, Boehner and his Republican cronies were passing a law that would hamper the EPA in doing its mandated job of helping to clean up the environment and protecting public health. The first law which was passed on Tuesday was framed by Republicans as a play for transparency.
H.R. 1422, which passed 229-191, would shake up the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board, placing restrictions on those real troublesome scientists and creating room for experts with overt financial ties to the industries affected by EPA regulations.
Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, argued that the board’s current structure is problematic because it “excludes industry experts, but not officials for environmental advocacy groups.” The inclusion of industry experts, he said, would right this injustice. Sounds reasonable, but…..
The part the Republicans like best is that the bill forbids scientific experts from participating in “advisory activities” that either directly or indirectly involve their own work. In other words, experts would be forbidden from sharing their expertise in their own research – which was peer-reviewed. The Republicans call that a conflict of interest. But, the inclusion of industry “experts” is not a conflict of interest even though the industry experts are trying to block the EPA from instituting any regulations.
“In other words,” wrote Union of Concerned Scientists director Andrew A. Rosenberg in an editorial for RollCall, “academic scientists who know the most about a subject can’t weigh in, but experts paid by corporations who want to block regulations can.” The White House has vowed to veto this bill if it ever reaches the President’s desk saying it would “negatively affect the appointment of experts and would weaken the scientific independence and integrity of the SAB.”
This is just the beginning. There is another bill called “The Secret Science Reform Act” which would prohibit the EPA from proposing, finalizing or disseminating regulations or assessments based upon science that is not transparent or reproducible.” As the Huffington Post reports:
While the bill’s language would not require the EPA to wait until its research was verified by an outside source to make recommendations, opponents say the bill’s requirements are murky.
“The bill attacks the mainstays of scientific investigation,” wrote Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) in an email to The Huffington Post. “It would strip away the EPA’s authority to make any rules due to the stringency of the data disclosure requirements.
“The peer review process is the foundation of science inquiry in our society, and is a trusted evaluation of scientific evidence around the world,” he added. “This legislation attempts to dictate how the scientific method is employed,” he added. “The Secret Science Reform Act is an attempt by climate change deniers to stop the EPA from doing its job.”
The irony in all of this is that “industry studies” don’t seem to need the same “transparency” as government-funded studies. Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) asked why we think it’s okay to question the industry’s motives, but are more willing to trust government-funded studies, insisting that research with industry ties is a good thing.
Eileen Silbergeld, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, testified that the committee was going after the wrong people. “We need more information, and specifically we need more information disclosure from industry,” Silbergeld added. “I call on them to tear down every wall that hides critically important information that is generated and held by industry.” There is nothing in this bill that would require industry to “tear down that wall” in industry studies.
Opponents argue that the trio of bills in the House are an attempt by Republicans to effectively block the EPA from adopting any new rules to protect public health. Or as Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, in an editorial for the Hill said these bills represent “the culmination of one of the most anti-science and anti-health campaigns I’ve witnessed in my 22 years as a member of Congress.”
So, as you can see, the Republicans have listened to the American People. But, what the American People have failed to realize thus far, is when Boehner and McConnell talk about the American People, they really mean their corporate donors. Not the American People. They simply believe that the American People are just too stupid to have a real voice.
When they talk about “small government” what they are really saying is that the American People are small and insignificant so our opinions don’t count!