Rumor has it that the confirmation hearings for Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Oklahoma) for NASA administrator will be held on November 1, though this date had yet to be officially confirmed. However, a number of environmental groups and some science groups such as the Union of Concerned Scientists are marshaling to oppose Bridenstine’s appointment.

At first, the opposition stemmed from the skepticism expressed by the congressman about human-caused global warming. Bridenstine has finessed his position since then, suggesting that he is in favor of further study of the matter. Now, some environmentalists have found a new reason to oppose the congressman.

It seems that Bridenstine favors more transparency in science research, especially that which results in environmental regulations.

What is the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act of 2017?

The Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act, or HONEST Act, would compel the EPA to release the Raw Data that is being used to craft environmental rules and regulations. The bill was crafted in response to the Obama era practice imposing regulations without revealing the scientific data being used to justify it. Also, many lawmakers are irate at practices within the scientific community, as disclosed for instance in the Climategate Scandal, of altering the raw data to justify the conclusion that human-caused global warming is happening.

The idea is that if the raw data is revealed, the public and independent scientists will be better able to judge whether or not the regulations are justified.

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The bill has passed the House but is currently languishing in the Senate.

Why are environmental groups against transparency?

The idea of transparency in science research would seem to be a no-brainer. However, some environmentalists claim that some of the raw data consists of health records of people who have been affected by pollution. Revealing the private health information of individuals is illegal Therefore the law that Bridenstine supports would inhibit the EPA’s task of crafting environmental regulations.

What is the real reason for the opposition?

Of course, the bill could be finessed to include the health information without identifying the individuals in question. The real reason environmentalists oppose the HONEST Act is apparently because they fear that if the general public gets access to the raw scientific data being used to justify environmental regulations, then they might conclude that bureaucrats in Washington are pulling the wool over their eyes to make sure they don’t oppose their dictates. The irony is that under the Trump administration, environmental regulations are being rolled back and new ones are being pursued with greater care. Whether Bridenstine becomes NASA administrator or not will not affect that process.