United States environment agency proposes limits to science used in rulemaking

In the name of scientific 'transparency,' Pruitt's EPA hobbles its own ability to regulate polluters

United States environment agency proposes limits to science used in rulemaking

Executive Order 13777, issued in March 2017, provides that regulatory reform efforts shall attempt to identify "those regulations that rely in whole or in part on data, information, or methods that are not publicly available or that are insufficiently transparent to meet the standard of reproducibility".

The new rule announced has a similar goal as legislation pushed by the chairman of the House Science Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, nicknamed the HONEST Act. The government's top watchdog determined just last week that the EPA broke the law by installing a $43,000 soundproof booth in Pruitt's office.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said the hearings were an opportunity to reiterate Pruitt's accomplishments, including repeal of President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan and Waters of the United States rule, "providing regulatory certainty, and declaring a war on lead - all while returning to Reagan-era staffing levels".

"Frankly, I think Scott Pruitt's done a great job of reinstating sanity in the rulemaking and the regulating process at EPA", House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said.

Numerous country's most prominent research organizations, however, say the studies that Pruitt wants to ban are crucial to effectively protecting the environment.

The Trump administration launched an attack on the science behind numerous nation's clean air and clean water rules, announcing a proposal Tuesday that would effectively prevent regulators from considering a wide range of health studies when they look at new regulations. Last week, 107 U.S. lawmakers signed a resolution urging Pruitt to resign. That letter, posted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, says that the proposal weaponizes the idea of "transparency" to allow political interference in decisionmaking that is supposed to be based on scientific evidence. He said his security chief made the decision for him to fly in first class after an unpleasant interaction with another traveler raised safety concerns. If the data contains sensitive information like health-related data the proposed rule says that the agency could restrict access or require an application before a member of the public can view it.

Pruitt also is likely to face questions about reports that he lived in a bargain-priced condominium linked to a lobbyist whose firm's clients have business before EPA.

The rule will be posted to the Federal Register for 30 days of public comment.

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