WASHINGTON – U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) delivered the following statement today at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters following Administrator Scott Pruitt’s announcement of a proposed rule to strengthen the agency’s scientific transparency.

As prepared for delivery:

I want to thank Administrator Pruitt for being such a courageous head of the EPA. Today’s announcement shows that we have an administrator who is committed to scientific integrity and to making our government more accountable to the American people.

Surely, we can all agree on two things. First, we need clean air and water. And second, the EPA’s regulations should be supported by legitimate and publicly available scientific data.

Administrator Pruitt’s announcement ensures that data will be secret no more. For too long, the EPA has issued rules and regulations based on data that has been withheld from the American people. Today, Administrator Pruitt rightfully is changing business as usual and putting a stop to hidden agendas.

Earlier in this Congress, the House passed the HONEST Act with bipartisan support. The legislation requires that scientific information relied upon by EPA for regulations be publicly available for independent analysis. 

Administrator Pruitt’s actions enable us to put the principles of this bill into practice. Unfortunately, the liberal media and alarmist environmental groups continue to argue against this common sense approach.

Those who oppose making the data public claim it will expose personal information. But they know confidential personal information can in fact be kept private.

There are several ways to make data public without revealing any confidential information and the principles set forth by EPA today make that clear. 

Redacting personally identifiable information is one option that agencies across the federal government already have used for years. Where redaction would limit the quality of datasets for individuals who wish to see the data underlying a study, access could be granted if the user agrees to keep the information confidential. 

Many in the scientific community agree that increased access to data is essential for reproducibility and objective analysis. Open access to scientific data fosters good policymaking. The American people have a right to understand how and why regulatory decisions are made. Administrator Pruitt has led the charge to ensure trust, accountability and transparency at the EPA.