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GOP Bill To Outlaw EPA 'Secret Science' That Is Not Transparent, Reproducible 618

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Fox News reports that Republican lawmakers in the House are pushing legislation that would prohibit the EPA from proposing new regulations based on science that is not transparent or not reproducible. The bill introduced by Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., would bar the agency from proposing or finalizing rules without first disclosing all "scientific and technical information" relied on to support its proposed action. "Public policy should come from public data, not based on the whims of far-left environmental groups," says Schweikert. "For far too long, the EPA has approved regulations that have placed a crippling financial burden on economic growth in this country with no public evidence to justify their actions." The bill, dubbed the Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 (HR 4012), would prohibit the EPA's administrator from proposing or finalizing any rules unless he or she also discloses "all scientific and technical information" relied on by the agency in the regulations' development including all data, materials and computer models. According to Schweikert's press release a 2013 poll from the Institute of Energy Research found that 90 percent of Americans agree that studies and data used to make federal government decisions should be made public. "Provisions in the bill are consistent with the White House's scientific integrity policy, the President's Executive Order 13563, data access provisions of major scientific journals, the Bipartisan Policy Center and the recommendations of the Obama administration's top science advisors.""
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GOP Bill To Outlaw EPA 'Secret Science' That Is Not Transparent, Reproducible

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  • by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) <slashdot AT uberm00 DOT net> on Saturday February 08, 2014 @09:40AM (#46195029) Homepage Journal

    That's the point. I bet the open access requirement is also harder to reach than it seems.

    Another bill that looks helpful on the surface but really just supports their agenda.

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @09:41AM (#46195033) Homepage

    Why only the EPA?

    Why not all the other stuff the government does?

  • Re:wait what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mellon ( 7048 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @09:42AM (#46195039) Homepage

    It's a great idea, as long as a willful failure to reproduce the results doesn't qualify as "not reproducible." And of course, it also means that a lot of work that is not being done now will have to be done—there's been a push in the sciences to do a better job of publishing code used to arrive at results, but this is by no means a complete success at this juncture. So the effect of this at present would probably be to prevent the EPA making any rules at all. And of course, I'm sure the Republicans have no intention of increasing science funding to account for the additional work that will be required, and the studies that will have to be re-done, and the code that will have to be rewritten.

    So yes, this could be a good thing; nevertheless, I smell a rat.

    Also, this throws the precautionary principle out the window: until something is proven harmful, it can't be regulated. History shows that things often aren't obviously harmful until widely deployed, even though it was obvious to people who thought about it early on that there was likely to be a problem. That sort of hypothesis would argue for study first, then use product. But this rule would require use product, then study.

    The bottom line is that no rule can make government work better. For government to work better, the people implementing the rules have to be smart and have good intentions, and there has to be criticism. If you just pass a rule, but don't hire the right people, it's garbage in, garbage out. And we are the hiring manager, much though we might wish to pretend that it's "the corporations" or "the libruls" or whatever. The buck has to stop here.

  • Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Cat ( 19816 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @09:42AM (#46195045)

    Here's hoping people will look past their pet political stereotypes and commend those who defend fact-based science in pursuit of better legislation and governance.

  • by Ronin Developer ( 67677 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @09:43AM (#46195055)

    I have to agree that when public policy is to made, the information should be disclosed and an open period of debate and review should follow. If this review is actually performed by other qualified scientists in the field vs politicians who understand the laws of nature do not change on a whim and not by 'historical' scientists and explain the findings to the politicians in terms they can understand, it's a good thing. However, to call it a far- left agenda shows the partisan nature of the bill. Sounds like Bill NYE upset the far-rights mindset....maybe for the better this time.

  • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @09:45AM (#46195067) Homepage
    why would you start this thread with "the GOP war on science marches on" when it is the GOP who is trying to bring transparency to science? In fact I believe this bill would in fact be used to stop ID from going further. I wonder if they didnt think that through
  • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @09:45AM (#46195069)
    So long as all sides in a controversy have to use open science, this will not happen. You have nothing to fear because all real science is open.
  • by ebno-10db ( 1459097 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @09:49AM (#46195087)

    Let's start with trade negotiations. No secretive negotiations whose results are only foisted on congress and the people after they've been finalized. "Take it or leave it." Screw that. All drafts, preliminary agreements, and the results of negotiations to be made public as they're ongoing.

  • Ken Ham (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 08, 2014 @10:00AM (#46195153)

    Did you see the debate between Ken Ham and Nye?

    At the end, Ham said that they were using the same evidence but that the interpretations are just different. That's all. Ham is also one of the people who say that Evolution is in conflict with Faith. So, if you want to know one of the sources of all this needless conflict from the Religious Fundamentalist who are trying to teach Creationism in science class, look to him.

    Science uses ALL data to come to their conclusions. Others, cherry pick and make things up in order for their "theories" to work. In Hams case, one thing he made up to discount the criticisms of the animals eating each other on Noah's Ark, he just proclaimed that obviously they were all vegetarians back then - even the lions.

    Evidence for that? Nope. But it makes his "theory" valid because the Bible is The World Of God and everything is on the table to make the stories correct. And the fundies eat it up and just think "See! Science doesn't have all the answers!"

    That's the mentality we're dealing with here. Folks discount the science that is pointing to the fact that these emissions are doing a lot of damage - and forgetting that emissions also cause smog and other air quality problems. This bill - if enacted into law - would open up the doors for industry to indiscriminately pollute.

    I highly suspect that this bill is NOTHING but industry trying to get the EPA off their backs so that they can go back to polluting like it was 1899 again.

  • Re:wait what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by c0lo ( 1497653 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @10:02AM (#46195169)

    Also, this throws the precautionary principle out the window: until something is proven harmful, it can't be regulated.

    "Proven harmful" is even mild in comparison with "reproducible harmful". There are lots of things one can never hope to reproduce empirically: can you really reproduce an earthquake (if you can't control it, how can you hope to reproduce it)? Or the effect of variating CO2 percentage on Earth's climate? (yes, you can observe it, but not reproduce it, there's only one Earth to stand as experimental subject)

  • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ebno-10db ( 1459097 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @10:05AM (#46195183)

    Here's hoping people will look past their pet political stereotypes and commend those who defend fact-based science in pursuit of better legislation and governance.

    In other words, here's hoping the dupes fall for it.

    What scientific information doesn't the EPA disclose? Yeah, I can't think of any either. Nor have I ever heard of opponents of an EPA policy criticize it on the grounds that the EPA hasn't disclosed relevant scientific information.

    This is a "think of the children" type of bill. Tout something that everybody agrees is desirable, and slip your agenda into the fine print. What does "reproducible" mean? If there are 100 attempts to reproduce the results, and only 99 of them agree, is it reproducible? Do attempts at reproducing the results include work done by the very companies opposed to the regulations, who can't disclose all the details of their work because they're "proprietary"? Does it include work done by the equivalent of creation "scientists"? Can you tie a proposed regulation up in the courts for years because only 99 out of 100 attempts succeeded? Is there fine print saying that a regulation can't be implemented as long as there is "any reasonable legal challenge" or some other lawyerspeak BS that means throw a monkey wrench into the works?

  • Re:wait what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @10:08AM (#46195205) Homepage

    This is a bill coming from the GOP??? and its pro transparent science?? Color me skeptical, but this looks like a good idea to me

    It's aimed specifically at the EPA and it's designed so they can basically block anything they don't like.

    Remember how nobody could *prove* that smoking causes cancer? That's the way this is going to go...

  • Re:wait what beta? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by c0lo ( 1497653 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @10:08AM (#46195207)

    Hey, your post got modded up quick! Please reconsider posting at all, slashdot is about to die unless direct action by its users is taken, did you miss something?

    And if everyone is rubishing beta, what do you think happens? Or, do you think geeks are like unionized blue-collars to go on a strike and return next week/month as if nothing happened?
    Yes, I can express my olives and fetta, but if I'm limited to only/exclusively that for more than 2-3 days, suddenly it doesn't make sense to even come on /.

  • Re:wait what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @10:12AM (#46195223) Homepage

    I smell a rat.

    Yep. Proving things is harmful in a complex system can be almost impossible. eg. They couldn't prove that smoking causes cancer, but was there any real doubt?

    This is just designed so they can stonewall anything the EPA proposes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 08, 2014 @10:14AM (#46195233)

    So long as all sides in a controversy have to use open science, this will not happen. You have nothing to fear because all real science is open.

    Remember the years that the FDA was just trying make cigarette makers put warning labels on cigarette packs? The cigarette industry had plenty of studies that showed cigarettes were "safe". It's easy to find a scientist to create a study to show that what you want then to show.

    And while the debates are going on about what is "real" science, industry is plowing ahead making money and harming people.

    The same WILL happen with all these industries who are trying get out from under the EPA.

    Industry CANNOT be trusted to do real science when it comes to their regulation and their bottom line.

    It is naive think that data, truth and science will prevail.

  • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @10:21AM (#46195265)

    It could be abused, to force the EPA to include "meta-analyses" of scientific results and use them to discredit reliable results compared to large sets of industry published, fraudulent results. Let's not forget the tobacco industry scientific fraud, for decades, about the poisonous effects of cigarette smoke on humans.

    It's also theoretically possible that this kind of law could be used to expose the "industry analyses" to review. That's what I'd hope for, right now: too many analyses are published under extensive non-disclosure agreements that prevent the EPA from being able to publish them. I've certainly seen that kind of restraint of publication about groundwater and soil toxicity analyses for new construction. The project leaders wanted even the existence of the analysis kept secret unless it was favorable to construction.

  • by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @10:27AM (#46195303)

    Why only the EPA?

    Why not all the other stuff the government does?

    You have to start somewhere, and if it's successful in this case, then the rest can follow. What surprises me about this story is that I thought all that data had to be disclosed already. How stupid is it that we have regulations based on data that's isn't made available for independent verification?

  • by retroworks ( 652802 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @10:48AM (#46195449) Homepage Journal

    I agree that simply restricting EPA's regulation is an "end of pipe" solution to the problems at EPA (restricting the power to restrict). But while I think the environment is the most important legacy our generation will leave (or not), there are many problems at EPA. A pile of lead silicate in the sunshine at a mining site is governed by 1872 laws and the cleanup paid by Superfund. Try collecting a stack of leaded silicate at a recycling operation. Outdated EPA codes discourage innovation or investment. In 1960 the USA had 7 secondary (recycling) copper smelters, by 2001 there were 0, because EPA enforcement of "waste" (scrap raw material, defined as "waste") is stronger than enforcement of "extraction" (mined raw material, defined as a "commodity") codes. The codes on EPA books were influenced by property value, making resources extracted from populace more difficult. 14/15 of the largest Superfund sites are at hard rock mining sites EPA can't figure out how to regulate... so they double down regulating recyclers, in a perverse "pecking order" show of strength. Visit this EPA Calculator to see EPA's attempt to put their Codes into legal interpretation, and run virgin leaded ore through it (follow "specific exclusions" path for mined ore, defined under "commodity" exclusion) []

    I really liked my colleagues (state env regulatory agency) and hate to sound like a jerk. But that social group-think, and "reverence of the environment", doesn't belong in scientific method, and is part of the problem. There is kind of pseudo-religious hostility towards rewriting environmental regulations, which become ossified and subject to work-arounds. Too many environmental regulators seem spoiled by the knee-jerk support of environmentalists, who fetishize the environmental codes, opposing rewrites and sunsetting of old EPA rules (again, out of justifiable but cynical suspicion the RCRA and CERCLA laws won't be replaced by new ones). Resistance to identified problems with EPA testing methods (like TCLP tests applied to vitrified solids, hah!) feeds the backlash at the GOP over continued use of the old code. How many of the comments here simply dismiss the idea in the article because it comes from the GOP? And how often are Democrats willing to sunset an old code before implementing a new one? It's a vicious intractable political cycle.

    All I can think of is to put (US Geological Survey) or NASA in charge of EPA, as the problems at EPA are entrenched officials who don't know how to steer their ocean liner to catch the sunset. RCRA and CERCLA are broken, EPA officials know it, but they are too afraid that if they are removed they won't be able to get replacement law enacted, and won't be able to hire the type of people that would write good regulations out of the new laws. Or if it's a coding problem, maybe a software engineer can fix it.

  • by ebno-10db ( 1459097 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @10:51AM (#46195457)

    Science is very political these days in every area.

    Nothing new - it was very political in Galileo's day too.

  • by Idarubicin ( 579475 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @10:55AM (#46195477) Journal

    There is a lot of science that is easily reproducible that cannot be taught in a school science classroom because it came from a "creationist". Like you, I demand that ALL science should be uncensored.

    Isaac Newton was a staunch creationist [] who put a great deal of time and effort into literal interpretation of the Bible. (Fun fact: Newton was born on Christmas day!) It's too bad that America's children are sheltered from learning his Laws because of their unfortunate association with a Christian wingnut.

    Oh, what's that? Darn. Well, which creationists are doing actual science that is being concealed from children? I mean, surely an advocate of creationist teachings wouldn't make grand claims based in personal beliefs and tenuous or nonexistent evidence....

  • by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @11:00AM (#46195525)

    There is a lot of science that is easily reproducible that cannot be taught in a school science classroom because it came from a "creationist".

    Please tell us what science has been denied because it "came from a creationist".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 08, 2014 @11:03AM (#46195549)

    Another bill that looks helpful on the surface but really just supports their agenda.

    AKA every bill ever?

    It sickens me that my generation and the one after it have latched on to the idea that one team is 'evil' and the other team are 'the good guys', when it is painfully obvious that both teams want the same thing, to be the only two teams in power. neither of them are the good guys.

    no matter what a bill says, it -must- be evil, because it's being introduced by 'those other guys', the evil party.

  • by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @11:13AM (#46195595) Homepage

    It's a GIANT problem right now. My parents worked for the EPA before they retired. Most of the regs were good but they were endlessly frustrated by some of the junk science used to support them.

    Whatever you want to read in to Rep Schweikert's motivations, he's not wrong on the facts.

  • Re:wait what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pepty ( 1976012 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @11:14AM (#46195603)
    They are absolutely not going to propose or allow the same standard to be applied when it comes to bills on other medical or social issues, such as provision of health care, abortion laws, regulation of marriage or adoption, etc.
  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @11:56AM (#46195897)
    The proposed law does not say WHO reproduces it, merely that someone MUST be able to reproduce the results. If the EPA can point to another, independent, study which reproduces the results of the first study, it meets those qualifications.
  • by gottabeme ( 590848 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @12:01PM (#46195939)

    Are you advocating the opposite, that the EPA should be able to issue regulations based on non-science?!

    Oh, this bill was sponsored by Republican candidates, so it must be bad, because we all know that all Republicans are anti-science, bloodletting phrenologists. And, of course, Obama and the Democrates are all open and transparent and honest! Obama's EPA would never do anything that wasn't scientifically reproducible and valid, even if they won't show us how they did it!

  • by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @12:20PM (#46196067)
    This is a disgusting scam that attempts to remove all protection from the actions of some very evil businesses. When an agencny like the EPA takes action the science is based upon compilations of complex studies and agreement among scientists. To try to completely document every minute detail in all of those studies would totally cripple the agencies. As an example we could not hope to apply rigid scientific standards to prove that smoking cigarettes casues cancer or heart disease. It is not because we don't have perfect certainty that tobacco kills but documentation will fail simply because cigarettes do not kill every single user. Therefore the consequences of cigarette smoking are not reproducable as they vary. What laws like this would do is unleash all kinds of misery upon the public. And consider why we allow the tobacco industry to sell product at all. The seller knows the product kills and ruins lives. Yet they insist on selling. And when we limit the sale of cigarettes in America they simply export ever greater quantities of the product.
  • by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @12:23PM (#46196091)
    Exactly. No more federal money for abstinence-only sex education when independent research shows that it fails in every one of its goals and leads to an increase in teen pregnancy and abortions. And since nothing in "creationist science" is reproducible, let's finally put that behind us as well. Oh and don't forget about DARE, which is completely secretive and provably worthless when independently evaluated, yet isn't defunded. Yes, I think I can get along with these new pro-science Republicans!
  • by gtall ( 79522 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @12:24PM (#46196097)

    Ya, I tend to agree, it will make the EPA decisions more bulletproof in the end, presuming the GOP doesn't game the system and have their cronies claim they cannot reproduce the data. Will tests failing to produce also be public?

    Presuming the GOP cannot find a way to game the system, I think it will make the GOP rue the day that they forced this though, although I doubt it will pass muster in the Senate.

    And yes, the GOP is a bunch of science-hating alleged legislators. The problem they have is that it is difficult spin science. Hence the term "alleged legislators". When the GOP became mostly about spin, they lost any objective analysis for governing. Now, we get to hear their talking points first, and their support for their talking points last and it usually doesn't support their talking points.

    The only people worse are the Democrat Party.

  • by NeverVotedBush ( 1041088 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @12:33PM (#46196177)
    That's why we should overlook this complete idiocy and attempt to pull the rug out from under the EPA and the laws that protect this country? Have you seen what China looks like? Do you know they have contaminated most of their farmland? Do you really want that here?
  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @12:38PM (#46196215)
    Did you read the linked bill? Can you point out the language that institutes something other than good science? You might want to read this link to understand where this bill comes from:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 08, 2014 @12:40PM (#46196235)

    "because we all know that all Republicans are anti-science, bloodletting phrenologists" In fact, yes, we do know that. :D

    "Obama and the Democrates[sp] are all open and transparent and honest!" Of course that's not true. We know that too.

    It should be blindingly obvious to anyone with half a brain that this is just a blatant attempt to get out of EPA regs. Worse, it's a blatant attempt to get out of EPA regs barely a month after the West Virginia debacle that should show everyone just how important EPA regs are. Also, yes, Republicans are quite anti science. If they don't want the label, maybe they should be shoving creationism.

  • Logical Fallacy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whistlingtony ( 691548 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @12:50PM (#46196311)

    Your entire post is a logical fallacy. "Black and White". You know this.

    "Where two alternative states are presented as the only possibilities, when in fact more possibilities exist.
    Whilst rallying support for his plan to fundamentally undermine citizens’ rights, the Supreme Leader told the people they were either on his side, or on the side of the enemy."

    There are plenty of alternatives. Like, I don't know, Allowing the EPA to regulate based on common sense (storage tanks in west virginia should be checked out once a year. Good science? I don't know. But it's common sense.) and known science (yes, formaldehyde is bad for people). Basically, shut up and let the EPA do it's job.

    I can't believe we're having this discussion barely a month out from the West Virgiania debacle.

  • by NeverVotedBush ( 1041088 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @12:50PM (#46196315)
    I would say it's not quite that easy to find scientists that can be paid to produce results that favor the payee. Unfortunately it can be done and cigarette companies are a great example. So are a number - but not all - of the scientists working on behalf of polluters. Half of the scientists out there graduated in the bottom half of their class.

    The way to tell is if they publish and are respected in their fields. At least for now most of the scientists in government do publish and are respected in their fields. The republicans are working hard to change that though. It won't be that long before their funding cuts, gag orders, and outright attacks from well placed political minions force many or most of the good ones out.

    Then these kinds of laws won't be necessary. Agencies like the EPA will be where tobacco company "scientists" can aspire to go. They can simply be told to research how industrial waste is actually good for you.

    But this law is probably being sold one way when the real target is different. The EPA is also working on climate change and big oil, coal, and gas all want to stop any and all research and legislation that will get in their way.

    Sadly the EPA is square in the crosshairs of all the big money in this country that want to increase profits by polluting this country. That is where the republicans come in with their pockets open wide for contributions in a quid pro quo deal that rapes the citizens of this country.
  • West Virginia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whistlingtony ( 691548 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @12:56PM (#46196355)

    I can't believe we're even having this debate barely a month after the debacle in West Virginia. A company didn't inspect their own tanks, the EPA regs were LAX, not tight, and 300,000 people couldn't even wash their hands in their water for a week, let alone drink it. It's not even ancient history. It happened THIS YEAR, and it's FEBRUARY!

    At best, this would just be used as a stall tactic while companies tied up the EPA with further appeals. They already do that. This is just another tactic to use.

    Everyone here should be quite aware that the EPA does a needed and useful job. I like not having lead in my kids' toys, formaldehyde in my milk, and chlorine gas in my air. Regulations are IMPORTANT. They keep us safe. Remember, it's way cheaper to not be safe.

  • by Bite The Pillow ( 3087109 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @01:15PM (#46196517)

    There is something between no science and public science, and that's what we currently have. The public, not just Congress, would need access to the data models used. Not just the papers, which goes beyond what we have today, but the backing data and the model.
    Open access journal would not be enough.

    We can agree that this is an improvement.

    However, Congress is not held to the same standard. There is no requirement to put public funded research in the public domain. There is nothing in this bill except a wish for a scientific community that does not exist.

    And because it does not exist, no Administration office will be able to make the regulations that Congress delegated responsibility for. Dumping asbestos in a lake? We need an open access study that says asbestos is still harmful when wet.

    I'm being serious, go back and read the bill. Being obvious or accepted or well known is not enough. Citing a meta-study is not enough. A report from Nature or Science is not enough. A reviewed and published study in a respectable journal is not enough.

    All of these are pro-science, but they fall short of this bill. Argue for open science all you want, but here is why it doesn't matter:

    This bill, on the surface, asks for what makes the most sense. It does nothing to get us there. It is no different from saying only moon people can make EPA regulations, and at the same time providing no funding to put people on the moon. The text of the bill, as written, is asking for what is nearly impossible. If this is unintentional, it needs to be fixed. Otherwise it needs to die.

    Either through ignorance or stupidity, you introduced a false dichotomy and assumed people opposed to this have to be against science, and fell right into the trap. I would ignore you, but you are +5 so someone might be influenced by your idiocy.

  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @01:23PM (#46196563)


    I'm torn - I think this would be a good idea in principle, but can already see it has been phrased specifically to shut down any attempt to mitigate climate change. Transparent is good, but the world is unique and ever-changing. By it's nature any research into weather or climatology will be impossible to reproduce - you can't make a copy of the planet to try different things on. That makes unraveling the details far more difficult, but we've still got supporting evidence from hundreds of different

    Tell you want, I'll grant you reproducible science requirements for EPA regulations if we can do the same for the federal reserve and fiscal policy - they cost the nation FAR more, and there has never been a single reproducible experiment in macroeconomics, ever. In fact there's been precious little *scientific* study of the matter at all, it's all philosophers spinning stories compatible with their biases.

  • by jythie ( 914043 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @01:43PM (#46196721)
    When one produces a draconian bill to solve a problem that did not exist in the first place, placing new burdens on an regulator that the party has made it quite clear they with to see dismantled, yes, I think it is reasonable to assume that the bill is not good for environmental protection. If it was good for the environment, by their own planks, they would not have introduced it.
  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @01:45PM (#46196739)

    Of course they can game the system - name one repeatable climatology experiment. It can't be done, like astronomy climatology is an observational science, you can't throw a bunch of alternate Earth's into the lab to experiment on. Requiring that only experimental (reproducible) science be used as the basis for policy means we have to ignore most of what we know about the natural world.

  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @01:52PM (#46196783)
    The already exists a legal definition of "publicly available". In addition, this law would apply to the EPA, not to the labs which produced the results. That is, it is the EPA which this law requires to make this information publicly available. This bill was created in reaction to the EPA's failure to provide the scientific information upon which it based its revision to Clean Air Act regulations to Congress.
    Feel free to suggest an alternative wording that is more to your liking.
  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @02:02PM (#46196871)
    While there is some truth to that, in that context, "reproducible" would mean that someone else could look at the same data and follow the data manipulation methods you used to reproduce your results. There have been several climate studies where the researchers either were unable/unwilling to release their data, or they were unable/unwilling to release the methodology they used to process that data. In either case, other scientists were unable to validate that the data supported their conclusions. Such studies should NOT be used to make public policy (although they may be perfectly acceptable as a reason to conduct more open studies).
  • by tp1024 ( 2409684 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @02:34PM (#46197101)

    Instead of: "Public policy should come from public data, not based on the whims of far-left environmental groups," says Schweikert. "For far too long, the EPA has approved regulations that have placed a crippling financial burden on economic growth in this country with no public evidence to justify their actions."

    He should have said: "Public policy should come from public data, not based on the whims of capitalist corporations," says Schweikert. "For far too long, government agencies have approved regulations that have placed a crippling burden on the environment in this country with no public evidence to justify their actions."

    I'm sure slashdot would have agreed.

    The hypocrisy is strong in this discussion.

  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @02:40PM (#46197149)

    >So what the fuck then is all this "climate change" hoopla based on then

    Observational science.

    There's two kinds of science: experimental science where you tinker with things in a repeatable way and see the results, and observational science where you're dealing with things that can't be duplicated and have to be inferred from lots and lots of independent corroborating results. Believe me, climatologists, astronomers, etc aren't altogether happy with the situation either, it'd be *much* easier to study the climate if we could tinker with it in a controlled fashion and see what happens, but it's just too big to be possible.

    We can tell you how it's changing, and more-or-less why it's changing (though we're still working on some of the details). We can make millions of different measurements and determine that evidence from many unrelated sources corroborates our theories. What we can't do is make a duplicate Earth to perform experimental science on.

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @02:50PM (#46197245)

    "These are the same people that are trying to get an extremist interpretation of the Jewish creation myth taught as science in public schools."

    Wow. Stereotype much?

    Are all black people thieves, too? Are Polish people stupid?

    Get back to me when you figure that one out.

    And just for the record, no, clearly what they are doing is in response to the EPA refusing to release bases for its decisions. See the links in the other comments above.

  • by je ne sais quoi ( 987177 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @02:51PM (#46197251)
    I was thinking this bill could actually much worse than just wishing for a scientific process that doesn't exist: there is a large and gaping flaw in its logic. Much of our regulations are issued because of large-scale damage to the ecosystem that costs much more to deal with its consequences than prevent (e.g., the added health costs of air pollution). However, in large systems, especially those involving human beings and livelihood, it is utterly impossible to reproduce something, like the climate change over the entire Earth,. According to the logic, to regulate dumping chemicals in a lake, you'd have to show that not dumping chemicals in the same lake under the same conditions doesn't result in mass fish die offs, increased risk of cancer for local inhabitants, etc. Since regulations are issued only after something becomes a problem, you can't ever reproduce the pristine conditions. How do you know it was chemicals and wasn't the weather that killed all those fish? You didn't reproduce the experiment.

    As for the EPA using secret science, this is an utter load of bull-shit. All of EPA's studies are on-line and publically available. Here is a link to the searchable database containing the superfund site Records of Decision: []

    This is another manufactured crisis like the "war" on Christmas attempting to make people on the left (or anyone who doesn't agree with them) into demons. Assholes.
  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @03:59PM (#46197751)

    Yes, bias and corruption exist everywhere.

    Now that that's settled, look at the state of the environment 50 years ago before the EPA was established compared to today. They may occasionally be biased, but we *know* the opposition is. Is it worth letting big monied interests totally defang the EPA against the biggest threat our species has scene in all of recorded history in order to curtail a few arguable overreaches?

  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @04:02PM (#46197767)

    Hey, I'll accept well-established observational science even when it goes against me. Rustle some up and we'll talk.

    But when the only counterargument is big businesses saying "But it will cut into my profits! Whaah!", you'd bet your ass I'll side with the observational science.

  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @04:11PM (#46197817)

    > Open reproducible science is a good thing in theory.

    Yes, but in many cases it's not a possibility. Transparency is good - by all means let everyone see as much data as you ethically can, as well the details of the analysis which led to your conclusion. (Though I think I heard the poster child is some study where the Republicans want access to individual medical records that can't be ethically shared)

    But put the word reproducible into the law, and do you have any doubt at all that business interests are going to use it to rule out observational science completely (working from the same data isn't *really* independently reproduction), or demand a second independent, (but no doubt still tax-payer funded) ten-year study before shutting down their horribly polluting factory?

  • by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @04:23PM (#46197913)

    It's pretty pessimistic to think humans aren't intelligent enough to invent ways of doing all of that without unacceptable levels of pollution.

  • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @06:10PM (#46198561)

    Deducing gravity by noticing what has fallen and how fast is "a bunch of data points and an opinion". It's also falsifiable: you predict what the data will be for other, related circumstances you haven't measured yet. A lot of astronomy, chemistry, biology, and social sciences are done this way because strictly controlled experiments are very difficult.

    The ability to make precise predictions, or to give accurate and verifiable _ranges_ for results, seems to be a very good basis for both engineering and science.

  • by atomicxblue ( 1077017 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @06:43PM (#46198727)
    We've already been sold -- now they're just negotiating the price.
  • by jamstar7 ( 694492 ) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @02:38AM (#46200635)

    Finally, was it when a then-Governor of MA put resumes of highly-accomplished women for his consideration for high-level positions in his administration in (gasp!) binders?

    Funny you should mention that. Said former governor got ALEC-provided model legislation recommended by the Heritage Foundation put into law in his state and the Republicans cheered it as a major event.

    Fast forward a few years when a Democratic president signs into law a modified clone of that same very legislation as a compromise, modified to cut down on some of the abuses of the 'insurance industry' like arbitrarily terminating somebody's health insurance the instant they're diagnosed with cancer, unless they have the special added cancer rider on their plan, because paying benefits will cost them money, profits, and bonuses. Now, all of a sudden, this legislation is the most evil thing since Hitler, and this president is a tyrant.

    And yes, Obamacare was the Republican-demanded compromise, as the Democrats really wanted to go single-payer like the rest of the civilised world uses.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.