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Washington • The House passed legislation by Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, on Tuesday that would change the way experts are chosen to serve on the Environmental Protection Agency's science advisory board and to make dissenting opinions from the panel available to the public.
The House passed the measure – the freshman congressman's first – by a vote of 229-191, though it's unlikely the bill will be brought up in the Democratically controlled Senate. The White House issued a veto threat this week, saying the bill would damage the EPA's role in protecting the environment.
Stewart says his bill enhances public participation, improves the process for selecting experts and limits non-scientific policy advice.
"These rules should be based on sound scientific assertions and conclusions," Stewart said. "It's critical that we have a balanced panel of experts operating in an open and transparent way. This bill improves that process in key areas."
President Barack Obama's advisers said they would recommend the president veto the legislation should it pass Congress, arguing that it would affect the ability of the EPA's science advisory board to perform its essential function.
The bill "would negatively affect the appointment of experts and would weaken the scientific independence and integrity of the SAB," the administration said in a memo this week. "The provisions on appointment of experts to the SAB and various other requirements could preclude the nomination of scientists with significant expertise in their fields."