State of Washington62nd Legislature2012 Regular Session

By House Environment (originally sponsored by Representatives Short, Upthegrove, and Springer)

READ FIRST TIME 01/31/12.   

     AN ACT Relating to standards for the use of science to support public policy; adding a new section to chapter 34.05 RCW; and creating a new section.


NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1   (1) The legislature finds that it is critically important that scientific information used to inform public policy be of the highest quality and integrity. Furthermore, the legislature recognizes that public benefit is derived from greater transparency as to what scientific information, data, or records are being used to inform public policy or relied upon in agency decision making.
     (2) Furthermore, the legislature finds that the state of Washington has not previously adopted a uniform standard for the use of independent peer review by qualified experts, even though the generally accepted approach in the scientific community towards ensuring the quality and integrity of scientific information is the conduct of independent peer review by qualified experts.
     (3) Therefore, in order to help ensure that agencies routinely use scientifically credible information in conducting their policy-making functions, it is the intent of the legislature to have those sources of scientific information reviewed and relied upon by agencies be identified in a clear and transparent way.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2   A new section is added to chapter 34.05 RCW to read as follows:
     (1) Before taking a significant agency action, the department of fish and wildlife and the department of ecology must identify the sources of information reviewed and relied upon by the agency in the course of preparing to take significant agency action. Peer-reviewed literature, if applicable, must be identified, as well as any scientific literature or other sources of information used. The department of fish and wildlife and the department of ecology shall make available on the agency's web site the index of records required under RCW 42.56.070(6) that are relied upon, or invoked, in support of a proposal for significant agency action. Any records relied upon or invoked by the agency in the development of a significant agency action must be made available at the outset of any comment period.
     (2) As used in this section, the following terms have the following meaning:
     (a) "Peer-reviewed literature" means information developed using a scientific method for which the following factors are true:
     (i) The scientific information is provided by a qualified, scientific professional or professionals with issue-appropriate expertise based on the professional's credentials, certifications, earned advanced degrees, years of experience, recognized leadership in an appropriate scholarly area, formal training, and recognized ability to produce peer-reviewed professional literature;
     (ii) The scientific information has been subjected to independent peer review by reviewers who are qualified and are independent with no conflict of interest. Independent peer review may be performed by reputable scientific journals, scholarly organizations such as the national academies, commissioned by the relevant agency, or commissioned by qualified entities whose interests will be affected by the action;
     (iii) The methods used to obtain the information are clearly stated, standardized for the pertinent scientific discipline, and are able to be replicated;
     (iv) The conclusions underlying the information are based on reasonable and logical assumptions supported by other studies and consistent with the data presented;
     (v) The data underlying the information have been analyzed using the appropriate statistical or quantitative methods;
     (vi) The information has been placed in a proper context and is appropriately framed with respect to the prevailing body of pertinent scientific knowledge; and
     (vii) The information is based on assumptions, analytical techniques, and conclusions that are clearly stated and well-referenced with citations to credible literature and other pertinent existing information.
     (b) "Significant agency action" means an act of the department of fish and wildlife or the department of ecology that:
     (i) Results in the development of a significant legislative rule as defined in RCW 34.05.328; or     
     (ii) Results in the development of policies, guidelines, or guidance documents that are designed to be used to implement a rule or statute.

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