By Peter Campion
We Aussie climate sceptics are watching on in awe as the new US President begins systematically driving a stake a into the vampire heart of the climate-alarm industry. It can be a challenge for the casual Antipodean observer to follow the nuances of US congressional processes and party politics, however, so it’s not uncommon for us to look to the articles and comments on WUWT for insight. It is that insight from commenters that is needed on the matter at hand.
A recent National Public Radio program re-broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission (or Alinsky Brainwashing Committee, depending on your level of scepticism) discussed the Trump Administrations’ new HONEST Act, or Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act of 2017. The climate alarmists interviewed by NPR were railing near-hysterically against this proposed new law, desperately twisting reality to find some illusory moral high ground from which to condemn it. The torment evident in their voices sent this sceptic straight to the internet to find out why they’re so frightened.
Congress.gov tells us well-known sceptical Republican congressman and Head of the House Science Committee, Lamar Smith, is the sponsor and that the HONEST Act has passed the House of Representatives. So far, so good. As at March 30, 2017 it had been received in the Senate, read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. The summary reads as follows;
This bill amends the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978 to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating a covered action unless all scientific and technical information relied on to support such action is the best available science, specifically identified, and publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results. A covered action includes a risk, exposure, or hazard assessment, criteria document, standard, limitation, regulation, regulatory impact analysis, or guidance. Personally identifiable information, trade secrets, or commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential must be redacted prior to public availability.
The Act itself is surprisingly short by Aussie standards and most of the action is in the second of its two sections.
SEC. 2. DATA TRANSPARENCY.
Section 6(b) of the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978 (42 U.S.C. 4363 note) is amended to read as follows:
“(b)(1) The Administrator shall not propose, finalize, or disseminate a covered action unless all scientific and technical information relied on to support such covered action is—
“(A) the best available science;
“(B) specifically identified; and
“(C) publicly available online in a manner that is sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results, except that any personally identifiable information, trade secrets, or commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential, shall be redacted prior to public availability.
“(2) The redacted information described in paragraph (1)(C) shall be disclosed to a person only after such person signs a written confidentiality agreement with the Administrator, subject to guidance to be developed by the Administrator.
“(3) Nothing in the subsection shall be construed as—
“(A) requiring the Administrator to disseminate scientific and technical information;
“(B) superseding any nondiscretionary statutory requirement; or
“(C) requiring the Administrator to repeal, reissue, or modify a regulation in effect on the date of enactment of the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act of 2017.
“(4) In this subsection—
“(A) the term ‘covered action’ means a risk, exposure, or hazard assessment, criteria document, standard, limitation, regulation, regulatory impact analysis, or guidance; and
“(B) the term ‘scientific and technical information’ includes—
“(i) materials, data, and associated protocols necessary to understand, assess, and extend conclusions;
“(ii) computer codes and models involved in the creation and analysis of such information;
“(iii) recorded factual materials; and
“(iv) detailed descriptions of how to access and use such information.
“(5) The Administrator shall carry out this subsection in a manner that does not exceed $1,000,000 per fiscal year, to be derived from amounts otherwise authorized to be appropriated.”.
NPR’s article from July, 20, 2017 can be found here and is headlined, “GOP Effort To Make Environmental Science ‘Transparent’ Worries Scientists”. A worried Professor Thomas Burke, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said, “To say that every study needs to have the data out there — this is code for ‘We are going challenge it — to raise issues of uncertainty and play the delay game’ that was so successfully played, unfortunately, with things like tobacco.”
Even from 5000 kilometres away we can smell the fear. Isn’t science all about challenging the ‘known’ and extending the boundaries of knowledge?
Sean Gallagher, a government relations officer for the American Association for the Advancement of Science said, “Defining terms, or setting in stone, terms like ‘reproducible’ or ‘independent analysis’ may sound good when you read it and it may look simple, but they have serious unintended consequences that may manifest down the line.”
Gallagher doesn’t seem to want definitions set in stone, yet surely good communication and quality science are both based on clearly defined terms? How could agreeing on basic terminology be of hindrance to the ‘advancement of science’? What could the “unintended consequences” be if the alarmist climate science community had to show their homework?
The informed views of WUWT commenters are sought to help those of us from other countries to better understand the prospects for the HONEST Act making it through the legislative process and having a useful impact in this very dodgy political/scientific field.
Peter Campion is a retired fire officer and a founder of the ‘Relaxivism’ movement. Relaxivism is the use of reason and logic to calm a fellow citizen who has become alarmed or agitated by prophecies put forward by special interest groups. Relaxivism strives to remove hysteria and emotion from debates and to replace it with rationality and scepticism.