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.

Lakota spiritual leader Chief Arvol Looking Horse attends a demonstration against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 28, 2015. Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is planning to cancel the controversial Keystone XL pipeline on the first day of his administration, a document reported by CBC on Sunday suggests.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst stand at the Orion spacecraft during a visit at the training unit of the Columbus space laboratory at the European Astronaut training centre of the European Space Agency ESA in Cologne, Germany on May 18, 2016. Ina Fassbender / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

By Monir Ghaedi

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep most of Europe on pause, the EU aims for a breakthrough in its space program. The continent is seeking more than just a self-sufficient space industry competitive with China and the U.S.; the industry must also fit into the European Green Deal.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A new species of bat has been identified in West Africa. MYOTIS NIMBAENSIS / BAT CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL

In 2018, a team of researchers went to West Africa's Nimba Mountains in search of one critically endangered species of bat. Along the way, they ended up discovering another.

Read More Show Less
Seabirds often follow fishing vessels to find easy meals. Alexander Petrov / TASS via Getty Images

By Jim Palardy

As 2021 dawns, people, ecosystems, and wildlife worldwide are facing a panoply of environmental issues. In an effort to help experts and policymakers determine where they might focus research, a panel of 25 scientists and practitioners — including me — from around the globe held discussions in the fall to identify emerging issues that deserve increased attention.

Read More Show Less
A damaged home and flooding are seen in Creole, Louisiana, following Hurricane Laura's landfall on August 27, 2020. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Elliott Negin

What a difference an election makes. Thanks to the Biden-Harris victory in November, the next administration is poised to make a 180-degree turn to again address the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less