Pruitt Floats Overhaul To EPA Scientific Review Process

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt could find himself out of a job soon White House officials are telling Republicans in Congress to tone down their public support for him

Sources: White House Deterring Republicans from Defending Pruitt

Many of those rules are built around the type of epidemiological research Pruitt wants to prohibit the EPA from using.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced long-expected plans on Tuesday to stop using "secret science" - meaning studies that don't make all of their data publicly available - when making rules.

But scientists and former EPA officials worry it will hamstring the agency's ability to protect public health by putting key data off limits. The measure was billed by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt as a way to boost transparency for the benefit of the industries his agency regulates. But researchers and science advocates maintain that the rule is little more than a ruse meant to limit the EPA's access to scientific studies and ultimately, to prevent new health and environmental regulations from going into effect. "It is long overdue that the EPA should make such data and collection methods available for public review and analysis", said Tim Huelskamp, the president of the institute.

"This is not about all of the details that scientists need to scrutinize each other's work".

Steve Milloy, a member of the Trump EPA transition team, said: "During the Obama administration, the EPA wantonly destroyed 94 percent of the market value of the coal industry, killed thousands of coal mining jobs and wreaked havoc on coal mining families and communities, all based on data the EPA and its taxpayer-funded university researchers have been hiding from the public and Congress for more than 20 years". The appropriateness of the assumptions and choices are not adequately evaluated in the standard peer review process.

A range of scientific organizations are already campaigning to block the rule from being finalized. There is an entire cottage industry that focuses on the problems of science, which creates the false public impression that much needs to be fixed, he said.

"The science that we use is going to be transparent".

In a press release yesterday, EPA cited the editorial policies of Nature and Science magazines as a justification for its proposed rule. "To apply the same standards to research that EPA says justify regulations affecting billions of dollars in economic activity and millions of human lives is essential for those regulations to truly be scientifically based".

At issue is Pruitt's use of public money for personal perks.

"The best studies follow individuals over time, so that you can control all the factors except for the ones you're measuring", said McCarthy, who now directs the Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment at Harvard's public health school.

Under the new proposals, the EPA will no longer be able to rely on scientific research that is underpinned by confidential medical and industry data. She has fought efforts by her GOP colleague Smith to get a version of the proposed rule passed into law for years.

Bette Grande, the Institute's energy policy research fellow, said the end of "secret science" at EPA "is very big news and you know it's an important step by the volume and hysteria of Administrator Pruitt's critics". Advocates describe this approach as an advance for transparency, but critics say it would effectively block the agency from relying on long-standing, landmark studies linking air pollution and pesticide exposure to harmful health effects.

House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, sought to establish a requirement similar to the one Pruitt has proposed, but his legislation, titled the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act, failed to pass both chambers. At the agency headquarters yesterday, he said the new regulation is in response to a larger scientific discussion. "Open access to scientific data fosters good policymaking".

In a House office building last week, Smith feted a group of researchers from the National Association of Scholars who routinely attack climate science and who say in a new report that there is a "crisis" in science because too much of it can not be reproduced. Scientists will have trouble recruiting study participants if the rule is enacted, she predicted, even if they pledge to redact private information before handing it over to the government. "Improper research techniques, lack of accountability, disciplinary and political groupthink, and a scientific culture biased toward producing positive results together have produced a critical state of affairs". The afterword of the report was written by Happer of Princeton.

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