More than 100 bipartisan lawmakers urge Pruitt to scrap 'secret science' rule

More than 100 bipartisan lawmakers urge Pruitt to scrap 'secret science' rule
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Bipartisan members of the House are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw a recently proposed rule aiming to increase transparency that some fear will limit science used in the regulation process.

The group of 103 lawmakers signed a letter sent to EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog says agency failed to properly monitor asbestos at schools| Watchdog won’t investigate former Superfund head’s qualifications| Florence causes toxic coal ash spill in North Carolina White House officials discussing potential replacements for FEMA chief: report Trump’s EPA chooses coal over the American people MORE Thursday calling on him to reverse course on the rulemaking, named Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, introduced in late April.

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"Contrary to its name, the proposed rule would implement an opaque process allowing EPA to selectively suppress scientific evidence without accountability and in the process undermine bedrock environmental laws," the lawmakers wrote.

The letter notes many of the same concerns voiced by scientists since reports of the rulemaking first surfaced — namely that the rule would specifically limit public health studies, whose findings must remain confidential.

"It appears to be targeted at excluding important public health studies while privileging industry-sponsored research," the lawmakers say of the rule. "It also fails to adequately consider the costs of implementation and the potential privacy implications."

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Curbelo and Ros-Lehtinen have both called for Pruitt to resign or be fired from leading the EPA.

Thousands of scientists have opposed the rule, arguing that it will severely limit the type of science used to determine the agency's regulations.

Pruitt signed the proposal on April 24 at EPA headquarters. The rule, which aims to expose the methodology behind scientific findings and cut back on what Pruitt has deemed "secret science," was signed at a closed-door event that limited reporters, environmentalists and scientists from attending.

At the event, Pruitt said the new ruling shows "an agency taking responsibility for how we do our work, in respecting process … so that we can enhance confidence in our decision making." He also dubbed the current process, which had, until now, allowed science to be peer-reviewed rather than open to public scrutiny, "simply wrong-headed."

The rule will replicate, through agency action, two bills previously introduced in the House and Senate meant to restrict the kind of science the EPA can use when writing regulations.

The prosed rule is one of many decisions made by Pruitt under the auspices of increasing transparency and getting rid of conflicts of interest. Last year he announced a new agency-wide policy that would bar scientists receiving money through an EPA grant from sitting on any science advisory board. He has also continued to push the idea of a "red team–blue team" exercise meant to debate the science behind decisionmaking by allowing industry leaders a voice in the scientific process.

20180606 Science Transparency Letter With Signatures by blc88 on Scribd