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Foster Speaks Out Against “Secret Science” Act On House Floor

Nov 21, 2014
Press Release

Washington, DC—Today, Congressman Bill Foster (IL-11) spoke out against the Secret Science Reform Act on the House floor. The Secret Science Reform Act, H.R. 4012, 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.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science and 42 organizations, representing scientific organizations and research universities, wrote a letter opposing the Secret Science Reform Act.  A copy is available here.

Foster 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. With the retirement of Congressman Rush Holt at the end of this term, Foster will be the only physicist in Congress.

Text of Foster’s remarks is below:

We frequently hear my colleagues across the aisle say “I am not a scientist” in response to a stance they may be taking on a matter which has a strong technical or scientific aspect to it.

Well I am a scientist, and that is why I am standing today in strong opposition to the Secret Science Reform Act. 

Even my colleagues in the House who are not scientists, when they have a question of law, they will consult a lawyer, but that doesn’t seem to be the case when science is concerned.

So I think that it would be good if in this House we spent a little while listening to the scientists who are concerned with these issues.

Today, a letter was introduced into the record from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, signed by 43 organizations, representing scientific organizations and research universities.

In the letter, they state:

“The research community is concerned about how some of the key terms in the 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 which this legislation, and sadly this debate, has not addressed.        

So I stand alongside thousands of my colleagues in science in opposition to the Secret Science Reform Act, and in support of what has been referred to in this debate as so-called peer review.

Let us scientists set the standards, and not Washington politicians.

Thank you