Quantcast
Politics
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt. Mitchell Resnick

Pruitt to Restrict Use of Scientific Data in EPA Policymaking

In the coming weeks, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is expected to announce a proposal that would limit the type of scientific studies and data the agency can use in crafting public health and environmental regulations.

The planned policy shift, first reported by E&E News, would require the EPA to only use scientific findings whose data and methodologies are made public and can be replicated.


The idea has long been championed by House Science, Space and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas). The prominent climate change denier proposed a bill last year called the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment (HONEST) Act, formerly known as The Secret Science Reform Act, that prohibits any future regulations from taking effect unless the underlying scientific data is public.

Smith's legislation, which is widely criticized by scientific organizations, passed in the House last March but hasn't left the Senate Environment And Public Works Committee.

Pruitt indicated at a closed-door meeting at the conservative Heritage Foundation last week that he would adopt elements of Smith's stalled bill, E&E News reported.

Also, in a recent interview with The Daily Caller, the EPA boss said his latest proposal was a transparency measure against what he and his Republican colleagues consider "secret science."

"We need to make sure their data and methodology are published as part of the record," Pruitt told the conservative news site. "Otherwise, it's not transparent. It's not objectively measured, and that's important."

Last year, the EPA head controversially announced a policy that would limit the presence of researchers who have received EPA research grants on the agency's Scientific Advisory Board.

Those in opposition to Pruitt's latest policy move say it would undermine the essential mission of the EPA.

Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, pointed out that the proposed changes would prohibit the use of personal health data such as private medial records, and confidential business information from even being considered in EPA policymaking.

"Companies could evade accountability for the pollution they create by declaring information about that pollution a 'trade secret,'" Rosenberg said.

"Fortunately, this nonsensical and dangerous proposal has never been able to make it out of Congress, but Pruitt seems intent on imposing it anyway."

Sierra Club Associate Director of Federal & Administrative Advocacy Matthew Gravatt said, "By limiting what studies can be used to help keep our air and water clean, our climate safe, and our homes free of toxic chemicals, Pruitt is trying to make it harder for the EPA to protect the health and safety of American families."

On Tuesday, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced it filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking documents that outline the details of this new policy and its development.

"By limiting what studies can be used to help keep us safe, this reported policy would make it harder for EPA to protect American families from pollution, toxic chemicals, and other threats. The result would be more serious health impacts—from asthma to cancer—for communities across the country," said EDF Senior Attorney Martha Roberts.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Energy
An activist adjusts his hat while protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline during the Native Nations Rise protest on March 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. The KXL has been at the center of a contentious fight for a decade. Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

KXL Pipeline Developer Plans to Start Construction in 2019

Construction on the long-delayed Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline is planned for 2019, developer TransCanada said Monday.

"Keystone XL has undergone years of extensive environmental review by federal and state regulators," TransCanada spokesman Matthew John told Omaha World-Herald. "All of these evaluations show that Keystone XL can be built safely and with minimal impact to the environment."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Artist Ricky Lee Gordon paints his mural, Wings of Paradise, on a building in Long Beach, California. David McNew / Ricky Lee Gordo / Greenpeace

Wings of Paradise: Drawing Attention to Rainforest Destruction

By Alexander Navarro

For too long the story of Indonesian forests has been painted with the darkness of burning rainforests, disappearing species and displaced communities. Greedy palm oil companies, that only seem to be driven by the bottom line whatever the cost to humanity or biodiversity, have played a major role in this.

Keep reading... Show less
Science
The ICESat-2 will point lasers at Earth's ice sheets. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

NASA's New Space Laser to Measure Earth's Changing Ice

NASA will soon activate the "most advanced laser instrument of its kind" to study Earth's changing polar ice.

The incredibly precise Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) is the main feature of the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) that successfully launched into space from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sept. 15.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
The Atlantic wolffish is already at risk from oxygen depletion. Nilfanion, via Wikimedia Commons

Oxygen Loss in Canada Linked to Climate Change

By Tim Radford

Oceanographers have identified an act of slow suffocation, as oxygen loss grows near one of the world's richest fishing grounds, and are linking the change to human-triggered global warming.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Business
A Co-op grocery store location in Shoreditch, London. The Co-op Group / CC BY 2.0

Supermarket Becomes First in UK to Replace Single-Use Plastic Bags With Compostable Alternative

Since 2015, all large stores in England have been required by law to charge five pence for single-use plastic bags in an attempt to reduce plastic pollution.

Now, major UK supermarket chain the Co-op is taking that one step further by phasing out plastic bags entirely and replacing them with compostable alternatives, becoming the first supermarket in the UK to do so, The Guardian reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Tiger: Bernard DuPont (CC BY-SA 2.0); Wolf: John and Karen Hollingsworth /USFWS

Tigers and Wolves: The Reigning Cats and Dogs in Conservation?

By John R. Platt

Do the species most in need of conservation also receive the most scientific research?

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals
A tiger in Dhikala, Nepal. Ranjith Kumar 2016 / CC BY-SA 4.0

Wild Tiger Population Nearly Doubles in Nepal

Thanks to dedicated conservation efforts, Nepal now has an estimated 235 wild tigers in the country, a nearly twofold increase from its baseline of 121 individuals in 2009, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) announced Sunday on the occasion of Nepal's National Conservation Day.

The South Asian nation is now on track to become the first country to double its tiger population as part of WWF's "TX2" goal to double the world's wild tiger population by 2022—the next year of the tiger on the Chinese zodiac.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
North Carolina hog CAFO in Hurricane Florence floodwaters, Sept. 18. Larry Baldwin / Crystal Coast Waterkeeper / Waterkeeper Alliance

In a Warming World, Carolina CAFOs Are a Disaster for Farmers, Animals and Public Health

By Karen Perry Stillerman

In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, I've joined millions who've watched with horror as the Carolinas have been inundated with floodwaters and worried about the various hazards those waters can contain. We've seen heavy metal-laden coal ash spills, a nuclear plant go on alert (thankfully without incident), and sewage treatment plants get swamped. But the biggest and most widely reported hazard associated with Florence appears to be the hog waste that is spilling from many of the state's thousands of CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations), and which threatens lasting havoc on public health and the local economy.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!