SELC, partners respond as EPA looks to undermine sound science

As the Environmental Protection Agency continues to undermine key protections for our nation’s health and environment, SELC and partners are using all tools available to ensure our country’s policies continue to rely on sound science.

One of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s recent moves was to advance a draft rule with the deceiving title “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science.”

Yet, as one professional noted in The Washington Post, Pruitt’s proposal has never been about improving science.

Gretchen Goldman, an expert on air pollution and the research director for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said of the move by Pruitt and his allies: ‘The goal was always to stave off science-based policies, not to promote transparency. What they’re doing now is couching that language in ways to confuse the public and make this sound innocuous.’”

When the rule was made public, it included a 30-day comment period, which SELC and 22 partners are challenging. The letter to EPA requests, at a minimum, that the agency provide a 60-day comment period and at least three public hearings, including one in the Southeast.

Since EPA did not provide any of its own analysis of the potential effects of its proposed rule on environmental regulation or the scientific studies underlying previously enacted rules, the public must undertake that task themselves,” the letter states. “Thirty days is clearly insufficient to meaningfully assess the potential impact of the proposed rule.”

At the heart of the rule are scientific studies that, to comply with privacy laws, cannot disclose some details about participants. For example, one well-known study used information from the American Cancer Society to study the connection between air pollution and illness. The results, which showed a clear tie between higher air pollution and shorter life spans, were a key factor in implementing air quality regulations. Since then, there has been a clear trend in both reduced pollution and improved health outcomes.

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