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: Flint residents can sue EPA over water crisis | Environmentalists see victory with Green New Deal blitz | March global temperatures were second hottest on record | EPA told to make final decision on controversial pesticide Court orders EPA to make final decision on banning controversial pesticide Former EPA chief Scott Pruitt registers as lobbyist in Indiana 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."

Four Republican members of Congress signed onto the bill: Reps. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenBottom Line The women in white and the trails they blaze Lobbying World MORE (Fla.), Ryan CostelloRyan Anthony CostellloOvernight Energy: Park Service closing Joshua Tree after shutdown damage | Dems deliver trash from parks to White House | Dems offer bills to block offshore drilling | Oil lobby worries about Trump trade fight Ex-GOP Rep. Ryan Costello joins group pushing carbon tax Exiting lawmakers jockey for K Street perch MORE (Pa.), Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloHillicon Valley — Presented by CTIA and America's wireless industry — Lawmaker sees political payback in fight over 'deepfakes' measure | Tech giants to testify at hearing on 'censorship' claims | Google pulls the plug on AI council Lawmaker alleges political payback in failed 'deepfakes' measure Ex-GOP lawmaker joins marijuana trade group MORE (Fla.) and Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickFreshman House Dems surge past GOP in money race Cybersecurity Advisory Committee will strengthen national security through a stronger public-private partnership Congress is ready to tackle climate change MORE (Pa.).

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