Time to end 'secret science' at EPA

Time to end 'secret science' at EPA
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Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittTrump admin appeals ruling ordering EPA to ban pesticide Government watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels MORE — clearly determined to do the job President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE assigned to him, no matter how hard his political opponents may be hitting him — this week took a bold step toward ending the EPA’s use of the “secret science” on which too many regulations are based. Not surprisingly, the professional environmental left has gone crazy, screaming that the sky is falling and that he must be stopped at all costs. Also not surprisingly, their objections are notable more for their volume than for their logic.

What did Pruitt do? He proposed a new rule that would require the scientific studies used by his agency to be available for public inspection and be able to be reproduced. “It is a codification of an approach that says as we do our business at the agency, the science that we use is going to be transparent, it’s going to be reproducible, it’s going to be able to be analyzed by those in the marketplace,” Pruitt said. “Those who watch what we do can make informed decisions about whether we’ve drawn the proper conclusions or not.”

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Wait. Is that it? The head of an agency with a history of imposing regulations that cost consumers tens of billions of dollars, that often make health outcomes worse rather than better, and that stand logic on its head, is now being pilloried for announcing that from this point forward, his agency will follow the scientific method?

Just last week, the National Association of Scholars released a new report on the irreproducibility crisis of modern science. Their report examines the different aspects of what is commonly referred to as the “replication crisis,” and offers 40 recommendations that would realign scientific research with the pursuit of truth rather than the implementation of partisan and political mandates.

It’s a testament to how messed up the Washington swamp is that his announcement has been met with such wailing and gnashing of teeth. That a decision based on common sense would send the swamp into such a frenzy proves it’s the swamp, not Pruitt, that’s crazy. Next thing you know, the head of the Union of Concerned Scientists will stage a formal rending of garments outside of EPA headquarters, and his event will be covered by all the mainstream media outlets.

That’s an exaggeration, but it’s really not too far off from the truth. On Monday, before Pruitt even made his announcement, the Union of Concerned Scientists sent a letter signed by almost 1,000 scientists bemoaning the decision. In my high school chemistry class, I was taught that there were seven steps to what was called “scientific method.” The steps are to make an observation, conduct research, form a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, record the data, draw a conclusion, and replicate.

Apparently, it’s that last item on the checklist — being able to replicate the experiment — that has the professional left in tears. Why? Because for decades they’ve been issuing regulations based on “scientific experiments” that couldn’t be replicated. Science that can’t be replicated isn’t science. It’s theory. It may be an interesting theory, it may be an exciting theory, it may be a noteworthy theory, but in the end, it’s just that. It’s a theory and nothing more.

The EPA isn’t the only federal agency with a history of issuing rules and regulations based on “secret science.” If Pruitt can reform the EPA by doing away with this, it could be just the first step in reforming the way other federal agencies operate. Pruitt’s determination to base EPA regulations on science that can be replicated is a threat to the established order. Grant money is at stake, along with the issuance of new rules.

For the professional environmental left, Pruitt’s announcement is a declaration that the rules of the game have changed. It’s like announcing that from this point forward, referees will call penalties on both teams. No wonder Pruitt is drawing such negative attention from Democrats and the media. They’re not worried he’ll fail. They’re worried he’ll succeed.

Jenny Beth Martin is chairman of Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund.