EPA Science Restriction Plan a Direct Attack on Agency’s Mission of Protecting Public Health

Statement by Andrew A. Rosenberg, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Mar 3, 2020

WASHINGTON (March 3, 2020)—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has introduced a new supplemental addition to a proposed rule restricting what science the agency can consider in policymaking. This rule would enable the agency to ignore critical studies where all the underlying data is not fully public, including public health studies based on private medical records. This new rule is not defensible on scientific grounds and would make it much harder for the agency to carry out its legal obligation to protect public health and the environment, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Dr. Andrew A. Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS and former deputy director of the National Marine Fisheries Service at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“This proposed rule is a sham put forth by EPA political leadership despite the nearly universal objection of scientists and public health experts inside and outside the agency. Premised on phony claims of transparency, this rule would severely limit the EPA from considering the most important scientific information the agency needs to do its job.

“EPA leaders haven’t been able to articulate an argument for this proposed change that passes the laugh test. That’s because it isn’t based in science or public interest at all. Instead, this is a political proposal born in the offices of powerful industry lobbyists who want to prevent the agency from creating evidence-based rules.

“It’s written in dry, technical language, but its effects are far-reaching. The real impact of this rule is the damage it will unleash on vulnerable communities who need strong, science-based rules to keep their air and water clean.

“This proposal has been met with resistance across the scientific community—drawing criticism from the EPA’s own Science Advisory Board and negative comments from 600,000 scientists and science supporters across the country. Astonishingly, after all this public input, the agency has managed to make this rule worse than when it was first proposed by former Administrator Scott Pruitt. It sets up arbitrary barriers and bureaucratic hurdles to the use of science and it applies to every piece of scientific information the EPA might use. And it gives the EPA administrator unilateral power to pick and choose when to apply or suspend the rule, making a mockery of the idea of transparency that is supposedly the point.

“With this proposal, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has made it painfully clear that he has no intention of carrying out the agency’s mission in good faith. It’s a recipe for weaker rules, increased pollution, and worse health outcomes. People who care about public health and safety must speak out against this destructive proposal.”