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 to make formal decision on regulating drinking water contaminant | Utility to close coal plant despite Trump plea | Greens say climate is high on 2020 voters’ minds EPA to announce PFAS chemical regulation plans by end of year Court tosses challenge to EPA's exclusion of certain scientists from advisory boards 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-LehtinenComstock joins K Street firm Yoder, Messer land on K Street Ex-GOP lawmaker from Washington joins lobbying firm 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 CurbeloTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trey Gowdy joins Fox News as a contributor GOP rep will ‘probably’ support measure to back Paris climate pact MORE (Fla.) and Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickDems escalate gun fight a year after Parkland House panel advances bill to expand background checks for gun sales Overnight Energy: Court rules for Trump in environmental case over border wall | House bill would stop Alaska refuge drilling | Ads target Dems over Green New Deal 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