Committee votes to block Trump's 'secret science' EPA rule

The House Appropriations Committee on Friday voted to block a controversial Trump Administration transparency rule that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) own independent board of science advisers criticized.

"This rule would place new crippling limits on what studies can be utilized when EPA crafts new regulation," said the amendment's sponsor, Rep. David PriceDavid Eugene PriceHouse panel approves measure requiring masks on public transport Overnight Energy: 350 facilities skip reporting water pollution | Panel votes to block Trump's 'secret science' rule | Court upholds regulation boosting electric grid storage Committee votes to block Trump's 'secret science' EPA rule MORE (D-N.C.), citing a slew of experts and scientific associations.

Scientists have decried the 2018 rule, which the administration sought to broaden in March, as an effort to block the EPA from being able to use significant amounts of research in its rulemaking.

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"The problem is throwing up impossible standards of reproducibility that make it exclude huge swaths of research from being considered for the scientific rulemaking enterprise," Price said.

The Trump administration has argued that the rule, which gives preference to studies based on public data, will increase transparency by banning "secret science."

But the EPA's own independent Science Advisory Board said there was no justification for the rule and raised “concerns about the scientific and technical challenges of implementing” it.

“It is plausible that in some situations, the proposed rule will decrease efficiency and reduce scientific integrity,” the board wrote in its review of the rule.

The amendment, which tackled the rule by blocking funding for its implementation, passed by voice vote in the House Appropriations Committee's markup of the $36.8 billion interior and environment spending bill for the 2021 fiscal year.

The bill, which also rejected deep cuts to environmental programs, passed the committee in a largely party-line vote of 30 to 19.

The House is expected to take up the measure later in the month, but its various positions, including the provision denying funds for implementing the rule, may face challenges in the Senate, where bipartisan support is required to pass spending bills.