The Secret Science Reform Act of 2014, which would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from making regulations based upon science that is not "transparent or reproducible," contains terms that could be misinterpreted, according to a letter to Congress from Alan I. Leshner, AAAS Chief Executive Officer and Science Executive Publisher.
The House Science, Space and Technology Committee is scheduled to meet 24 June to consider the bill, but the AAAS letter asks the committee to extend their evaluation until federal agencies have finalized their data access policies as required by the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010.
"AAAS 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'" the letter says. It is unclear, for example, whether the EPA would be excluded from using research based on physical specimens or biological materials that are not easily accessible, or research that combines public and private data. Other research may not be easily reproducible, or would require a different process, because it is based on large-scale longitudinal studies or on one-time events like the Deep Horizon Oil Spill.
The legislation also does not clarify whether research institutions will have to bear the costs and effort of sharing and archiving this data, the AAAS letter notes.