Research science and writing peer-reviewed papers — they go hand-in-hand. In fact, publishing the results of one’s research is kind of one of the defining traits of research science, and it’s a rite of passage for most. Literally — publishing a peer-reviewed thesis is a required part of most doctorate programs. But everyone knows science is a conspiracy against Jesus, and that anything worth knowing is revealed through the Holy Spirit. Not some arrogant “Doctor,” who has the hubris of ideas. Thankfully, our Republican congress just made its first move to ensure those guys never sit before the EPA to talk about the things they have doctorates in.
The Science Advisory Board (or SAB) is a group of scientists who advise the EPA Administrator on setting and enforcing policies. They do environmental impact studies, interpret data, and all around serve as the brains of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Among a few other quietly nefarious measures the House has passed since being sworn in was this: H.R. 1422, the Science Advisory Board Reform Act. Sponsored by former Mormon missionary Chris Stewart (R-UT, naturally), this act would effectively lobotomize the EPA’s frontal lobe by keeping the people who know what they’re talking about and have published papers on it from sitting on the SAB. It states in par that:
“Board members may not participate in advisory activities that directly or indirectly involve review or evaluation of their own work.”
Which isn’t to say that people with degrees can’t advise the EPA…as long as those people with degrees never actually studied the environment. For instance, a geologist could advise them on atmospheric carbon. A chemical engineer could advise them on the impact of logging on California beavers. A person with a degree in business management and economics could advise them on effective industry regulatory strategies.
And that’s the real rub of the Act.
While it forbids biologists from talking about biology, oceanographers from talking about oceans, and climatologists from talking about the climate, it does allow corporate CEOs and thier hired scientists to advise on any of those things. According to this act, David Koch would be better qualified to advise on quantum physics than Max Planck. Want an opinion on mountain gorillas? Forget Jane Goodall — just ask the fine people of Rainforest Logging Inc. Need to know about the effects of radiation contamination on human beings? Tell Marie Curie to stay at home, and let’s welcome our guest advisors from Consolodated Uranium.
So, how long will it be before BP starts advising the EPA on the possible harmful effects of offshore oil drilling.
Obama’s already promised to keep is veto pen warm on H.R. 1422 should it pass the Senate. The White House issued this statement:
“H.R. 1422 would negatively affect the appointment of experts, and would weaken the scientific independence and integrity of the SAB.”
Jim McGovern (D-MA) was a little more Yankee-direct about it. Read this aloud while doing your best Kennedy impression:
“I get it, you don’t like science. And you don’t like science that interferes with the interests of your corporate clients. But we need science to protect public health and the environment.”
So, the White House will spare us from this particular anti-science bill from a guy who believes in magic underwear, and whose universal ambitions include becoming Spacelord Stewart. But make no mistake, this won’t be the last Republican assaulton the EPA, which, along with Social Security has been a thorn in the Libertarian side since the 1980s. They have two more already in the works in what some have called an “unreleting partisan attack” on the EPA.
Of course, revealed knowledge is better than acquired knowledge — and for sure, the next two years will prove a revelation about our Republican Congress.