Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

EPA to Adopt Big Tobacco's 'Secret Science' Rule

Politics
EPA to Adopt Big Tobacco's 'Secret Science' Rule
Former coal lobbyist and current EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler looks at a pamphlet about Superfund sites at EPA's New York City office on March 4, 2019. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Former coal lobbyist and current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Andrew Wheeler is expected to announce on Tuesday a rule tobacco consultants devised as an "explicit procedural hurdle" to protecting public health.



The rule — sometimes called the 'Secret Science' rule — will require EPA to give less credence to scientific studies that take into account individuals' medical histories and other data that cannot be made public. Such studies have served as the foundation for a half-century of clean air and clean water protections.

"It's as absurd as it sounds," Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said in a statement. Had the rule been in place, the EPA would have been unable to require mercury pollution cuts from coal-fired power plants because it would have been unable to show how mercury impairs brain development. It could also effectively bar EPA from relying on foundational research — including findings that lead paint dust harms children and that air pollution causes premature deaths — when existing public health protections come up for renewal.

"The people pushing it are claiming it's in the interest of science, but the entire independent science world says it's not," Chris Zarba, a former director of the EPA's Science Advisory Board, told The Washington Post.

As reported by The New York Times:

"Right now we're in the grips of a serious public health crisis due to a deadly respiratory virus, and there's evidence showing that air pollution exposure increases the risk of worse outcomes," said Dr. Mary Rice, a pulmonary and critical care physician who is chairwoman of the environmental health policy committee at the American Thoracic Society.
"We would want E.P.A. going forward to make decisions about air quality using all available evidence, not just putting arbitrary limits on what it will consider," she said.

For a deeper dive:

The New York Times, The Washington Post, AP, E&E, POLITICO Pro

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

Sunrise over planet Earth. Elements of this image furnished by NASA. Elen11 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On Thursday, April 22, the world will celebrate Earth Day, the largest non-religious holiday on the globe.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
NASA has teamed up with non-profit Carbon Mapper to help pinpoint greenhouse gas sources. aapsky / Getty Images

NASA is teaming up with an innovative non-profit to hunt for greenhouse gas super-emitters responsible for the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
Trending
schnuddel / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Jenna McGuire

Commonly used herbicides across the U.S. contain highly toxic undisclosed "inert" ingredients that are lethal to bumblebees, according to a new study published Friday in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

Read More Show Less
A warming climate can lead to lake stratification, including toxic algal blooms. UpdogDesigns / Getty Images

By Ayesha Tandon

New research shows that lake "stratification periods" – a seasonal separation of water into layers – will last longer in a warmer climate.

Read More Show Less
A view of Lake Powell from Romana Mesa, Utah, on Sept. 8, 2018. DEA / S. AMANTINI / Contributor / Getty Images

By Robert Glennon

Interstate water disputes are as American as apple pie. States often think a neighboring state is using more than its fair share from a river, lake or aquifer that crosses borders.

Read More Show Less