Washington (March 25, 2020)—The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued a supplemental expansion of a proposed rule that would transform how the agency uses science in policy decisions and scientific assessments. Despite the major changes in the supplement, the agency will not hold any virtual public hearings during the brief 30-day window it’s providing for comment. That’s why the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) will host a virtual public hearing to provide input on the proposal.
UCS will convene this virtual public hearing on April 14, 2020, shortly before the EPA’s comment period closes. The hearing will follow the format of the agency’s previous virtual hearings, with registration and more information available on the UCS website. The morning, afternoon and evening sessions will be broadcast live through the UCS website.
The original rule, which EPA named Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, was mired in controversy. Hundreds of thousands of people commented on the original rule, and scores of scientific and public health organizations urged the EPA to withdraw it.
The EPA confirmed this week by email that the agency would not extend the 30-day comment period or hold any virtual public hearings, in spite of the major changes made to the proposal and the disruptions created by the recent coronavirus outbreak. Many public health professionals and organizations who had previously submitted comments are currently working full throttle to contain and treat people impacted by the coronavirus.
“We will make sure that the EPA hears from the public on this rule, whether they want to or not,” said Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS. “The proposed rule has enormous consequences for public health and safety. It’s absolutely unacceptable for the EPA to try and push it through during a public health emergency.”
Members of the public will be given 5 minutes at the virtual hearing to present their comments. Those without access to technology or who have time conflicts can identify a proxy to speak on their behalf. They may also submit materials to accompany their comments. UCS will submit a full transcript of the virtual hearing to EPA along with any written materials.
Last fall, UCS hosted an independent review panel of scientists who EPA leadership dismissed from the process of setting air-pollution standards.