What happened: In early January 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule that limited what research can be used to craft public health protections. The rule required that agency decisions depend only on scientific studies in which researchers disclosed the underlying data; however, most public health research includes confidential medical records and other personal data that cannot be released due to privacy concerns.
Why it matters: The EPA’s rule required that the agency purposefully restrict the use of robust and rigorous studies when making important policy decisions, like those related to the health impacts of air or water pollution. Implementing a process that stopped the consideration of the best available science from agency decisionmaking could have endangered the health and safety of millions of people across the US.
For more information, see our press statement on the finalization of the rule. Also see how the EPA issued a supplemental notice that made the rule even worse and our public comment to the EPA on why the rule was so problematic.