Published December 27, 2007
Springfield (MO) News-Leader
Federal act ensures good science used in laws
Like most environmental extremists, Jim Vokac must hate having to prove he is right. Theorizing and conjecture are a valuable part of the scientific process, but they are not alone sufficient for establishing scientific laws, let alone setting federal policy. To meet the tests (and the challenges) of good policy, we must eschew scientific theory and require scientific proof. On no issue is that requirement more relevant than global warming, and I gather Mr. Vokac blames the Federal Data Quality Act for preventing us from stopping that very phenomenon.
First, let me explain the law; the Federal Data Quality Act insists that federal agencies use facts, and only facts, to set environmental, health, science and other policies. Before this law (signed by President Bill Clinton) existed, federal agencies used guesswork from extraordinary sources to arrive at arbitrary standards for everything from exposure to toxic materials to proving the causes of global warming.
Simply put, the Federal Data Quality Act prevented unproven scientific reports from many, many sources from unduly influencing the United States to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol — a treaty that would have compelled the U.S. to limit emissions and use of fossil fuels while giving China and India "developing" status and license to continue to pollute. Abstaining from the Kyoto Protocol, a document which is generally acknowledged to be the equivalent of economic suicide, was a requirement for the survival of U.S. industry. Still today, it is promoted by those who wish to see America surrender manufacturing and industrial jobs to "developing countries" — or at least those with that status under the treaty — instead of emerging as a leader in responsible environmental technologies and best practices that can make incremental change in the struggle to improve the health of our planet.
Ultimately, the Federal Data Quality Act is an important article of law from an institution that has the primary constitutional role of oversight of executive agencies. This law helps the Congress, and the American public, make sure scientific data espoused by any administration, Republican or Democratic, is correct, verifiable and able to withstand the scrutiny of our courts. I have yet to meet the environmentalist who does not have a study from somewhere proving his or her assertions complete scientific fact. History is littered with their faulty documents, but the Federal Data Quality Act, used for good or ill, assures that our laws endure.