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Foster Speaks Out Against Anti-Science Legislation

Mar 18, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC—Today, Congressman Bill Foster (IL-11) spoke out against the Secret Science Reform Act of 2015 – legislation that would create unnecessary burdens for scientific research used by the EPA and create guidelines that could be misinterpreted and exclude important research.

Video of Foster’s speech is available here.

Foster, the only physicist in Congress, is a scientist and businessman who worked at Fermi National Laboratory for over 20 years. Foster’s scientific career was as a high-energy physicist and particle accelerator designer at Fermi Lab. Foster was a member of the team that discovered the top quark, the heaviest known form of matter. He also led the teams that designed and built several scientific facilities and detectors still in use today, including the Recycler Ring, the latest of Fermi Lab's giant particle accelerators.

Text of Foster’s remarks is below:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I am disappointed to be here, once again, speaking out against the Secret Science Reform Act.

There are many problems that our nation faces that we need to tackle – growing income inequity, a badly broken immigration system, and underinvestment in federal research and development.

So I’m having a hard time understanding why Congressional leaders think that this body, composed largely of lawyers and career politicians, should devote its attention to telling scientists how to conduct their research.

We’ve heard many of these same politicians declare proudly “I am not a scientist” as they excuse their ignorance on issues like climate change or the effectiveness of vaccines.

Yet they want to rewrite the rules for standards of research for EPA scientists.

As a scientist myself, as well as a manufacturer, one who started a business that now provides hundreds of manufacturing jobs in the United States, and has kept those jobs in the Midwest, and understands what is important for manufacturing to succeed in the United States, I always value the input of experts over political rhetoric.

So what have the experts said about the Secret Science Reform Act?

Today, a letter was introduced into the record from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, signed by 35 groups, representing scientific organizations and research universities.

In the letter, they state:

•           The research community is concerned about how some of the key terms in this bill could be interpreted or misinterpreted.

•           Especially terms such as “materials,” “data,” and “reproducible.”

•           Would the Environmental Protection Agency be excluded from utilizing research that involved physical specimens or biological materials that are not easily accessible?

•           How would the agency address research that combines both public and private data?

These are all important questions that were not addressed when this bill was proposed last Congress, and still remain unaddressed today.

So I continue to stand alongside thousands of my colleagues in science in opposition to the Secret Science Reform Act.

These are standards that should be set by scientists, and not by Washington politicians.

Thank you, and I yield back.

A copy of the letter from the American Association for the Advancement of Science is available here.