Pruitt to restrict the use of data to craft EPA regulations

Pruitt to restrict the use of data to craft EPA regulations
© Greg Nash

The Trump administration is planning to put new restrictions on the kind of scientific studies and data that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can use to craft its regulations.

The EPA wants to stop using scientific findings whose data and methodologies are not public or cannot be replicated, the Daily Caller reported Tuesday.

It aligns in part with a years-long effort by House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithElection Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas Greens sue EPA over ‘super-polluting’ truck rule Lawmakers scold NASA for cost overruns MORE (R-Texas) to stop the use of “secret science” at the EPA.

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Critics have said the effort could hamper the use of health studies for which privacy is a concern, or external studies for which the EPA does not own the data.

“We need to make sure their data and methodology are published as part of the record,” Pruitt told the Daily Caller. “Otherwise, it’s not transparent. It’s not objectively measured, and that’s important.”

Pruitt said studies completed outside of the EPA could be particularly impacted, but the EPA’s own research might also need to change.

“If we use a third party to engage in scientific review or inquiry, and that’s the basis of rulemaking, you and every American citizen across the country deserve to know what’s the data, what’s the methodology that was used to reach that conclusion that was the underpinning of what — rules that were adopted by this agency,” he told the Daily Caller.

E&E News first reported Pruitt’s intentions Friday, based on a closed-door speech he gave to the conservative Heritage Foundation recently.

Yogin Kothari of the Union of Concerned Scientists said Pruitt’s forthcoming policy is merely an effort to restrict the EPA’s ability to regulate.

“A lot of the data that EPA uses to protect public health and ensure that we have clean air and clean water relies on data that cannot be publicly released,” he told E&E.

“If EPA doesn't have data to move forward with a public protection for a safeguard, it doesn't have to do that at all,” Kothari said. “It really hamstrings the ability of the EPA to do anything, to fulfill its mission.”

Smith’s “secret science” legislation consistently passed the House, but ran into veto threats by former President Obama. It also failed to garner the needed 60 votes to pass the Senate.