US Environmental Agency Chief Bans Use of Confidential Scientific Studies

Pruitt got a sweetheart rent deal from a lobbyist flew first class for months at taxpayer expense and spent $43,000 on a secure soundproof booth in his office

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule on 24 April that would prevent it from basing regulatory decisions on studies whose full underlying data is not publicly available. "This rule isn't about 'scientific transparency.' It's about undermining public health and the environment".

"Today is a red-letter day". "In other words, they'll say, "We didn't exclude that because it doesn't qualify" so they don't have to explain that they ever excluded it, so that's just the opposite of transparency". "It's going to be reproducible", he said.

The move reflects a broader effort already underway to change how the agency conducts and uses science to guide its work.

The proposal must undergo a 30-day public comment period once it's published online, among other things, before it is finalized. At the agency headquarters yesterday, he said the new regulation is in response to a larger scientific discussion. "This is not a memo". They argue that if the data can not be published, the rules should not be adopted.

The debate over the use of data in the agency's regulatory decisions dates back to the mid-1990s, when researchers at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the American Cancer Society first documented the link between long-term exposure to air pollution and mortality due to cardiopulmonary disease.

Additionally, the points prep the administrator to answer important policy questions ranging from EPA's removal of the term "climate change" from a number of documents and websites to his recent policy proposal on "secret science".

"A reproducibility crisis afflicts a wide range of scientific and social-scientific disciplines, from epidemiology to social psychology", they wrote. "And nobody would want somebody to expose all of their private information".

The most effective way Pruitt can hollow out the EPA, besides gutting its staff, is to attack the heart of how the agency uses and studies science-the bedrock of the EPA's work.

Pruitt and Smith met at EPA headquarters on January 9, according to Pruitt's public calendar, and an email obtained under the Freedom of Information Act indicates that the lawmaker pressed the administrator to adopt the legislation's goal as his own. "It is long overdue that the EPA should make such data and collection methods available for public review and analysis", said Tim Huelskamp, the president of the institute.

Smith attended the event, as did members of conservative groups such as the Heartland Institute and the Institute for Energy Research. A series of studies has shown that fine particulate matter, often referred to as soot, enters the lungs and bloodstream and can cause illnesses such as asthma as well as premature death.

While the administration presses ahead, legal experts warn that the rule may be vulnerable to a court challenge. It's likely that in the past, the data did not justify all regulations.

Though both bills cleared the House, they died in the Senate. The government's defense had noted that "EPA's reliance on published scientific studies without obtaining and reviewing the underlying data is not only reasonable, it is the only workable approach".

Scientists and leading scientific organizations were largely excluded from EPA's process in formulating the proposed rule.

Nearly 1,000 scientists signed on to a letter urging Pruitt to abandon the proposal. But, the scientists wrote, "many public health studies can not be replicated, as doing so would require intentionally and unethically exposing people and the environment to harmful contaminants or recreating one-time events".

If the EPA's rule is successful and any research compiled this way is removed, it means public data on critical research is diluted.

"The best available science must serve as the foundation of EPA's regulatory actions", the proposed rule states.

For the "Secret Science Reform" bill introduced by Lamar Smith in 2014, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the implementation costs would be $250 million a year-half of the Office of Research and Development's research budget. "Such a requirement would be incredibly burdensome", she wrote, "not practical".

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