A recently introduced bill seeks to give Environmental Protection Agency science a higher profile by creating a science position that would itself be indisputably high profile: a presidentially appointed deputy administrator for science and technology, equal in authority to the present Deputy Administrator.
Introduced in January by Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Michigan), the "Strengthening Science at the Environmental Protection Agency Act," or H.R. 64, draws on nearly a decade of recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences--most recently and most directly from its 2000 National Research Council report, "Strengthening Science at the Environmental Protection Agency."
In particular, the legislation enacts a main recommendation of the report: the creation of a new top science official--dubbed a "science czar"--to lend credibility to EPA science.
Citing what is at the very least a debilitating appearance of conflict between the EPA's regulatory and research roles, the report concludes thus: "Just as the advice of the agency's general counsel is relied upon by the administrator to determine whether a proposed action is 'legal,' an appropriately qualified and adequately empowered scientific official is needed to attest to the administrator and the nation that the proposed action is 'scientific'--that it is consistent, or at least not inconsistent, with available scientific knowledge--and...