EPA extends comment period on controversial science transparency rule

EPA extends comment period on controversial science transparency rule
© Greg Nash

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is extending the public comment period for a controversial science “transparency” rule that environmentalists have criticized as a rule that would limit facts from being involved in the agency's rulemaking process.

The comment period for the rule, Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, is being extended to August 17. Originally the comment period was only 30 days and was scheduled to close May 30.

The agency also announced it will be holding a public hearing for the rule proposal on July 17.

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“EPA is committed to public participation and transparency in the rule making process,” EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittNew EPA chief draws sharp contrast to Pruitt Overnight Energy: House to vote on anti-carbon tax measure | Dem says EPA obstructed 'politically charged' FOIA requests | GOP looks to overhaul endangered species law Top Dem: EPA slowed ‘politically charged’ FOIA requests MORE said in a statement Thursday. “By extending the comment period for this rule and holding a public hearing, we are giving stakeholders the opportunity to provide valuable input about how EPA can improve the science underlying its rules.”

While EPA contends that the rule will strengthen science by requiring all future regulations be based off scientific studies whose data is open to the public, a number of public health advocates and scientists have argued that the rule would end up limiting the amount of available science used.

Scientific groups have also been critical of the short comment period offered on the rule which was first announced and placed in the Federal Register at the end of April.

Some maintained that the short timeline was a violation of an Executive Order that said there should be a minimum of a 60 day comment period on all regulatory actions.

Last week, 20 Democratic Senators wrote Administrator Scott Pruitt asking him to extend the comment period writing, "EPA would be well served by giving stakeholders the adequate time to draft and submit thorough, well-researched comments and by conducting at least one hearing to hear public feedback."

The letter, led by Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseWho is Andrew Wheeler, EPA's new acting chief? Congress can protect midterm elections with the Disclose Act Trump nominee vows to restore 'trust' in IRS MORE (D-R.I.), noted that groups including the American Lung Association and American Public Health Association were also requesting the extension for their comments.