On March 18, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moved to significantly change how science is used in public health protection decisions and scientific assessments. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the agency is providing the public just 30 days to comment on this sweeping proposal.
EPA has refused to hold a hearing on this supplement to its proposed rule. As a result, the Union of Concerned Scientists is hosting a virtual public hearing on Tuesday, April 14, 2020, from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m EDT, in the manner that EPA would hold a hearing. The virtual hearing will stream live through this web page.
The hearing is open to anyone who would like to provide comments on EPA’s proposed action. Pre-registration is required by noon on Monday, April 13, 2020, so as to coordinate individual speaking times. The virtual public hearing will consist of three sessions:
- A morning session starting at 9:00 am and ending at noon EDT (Low availability)
- An early afternoon session starting at 1:00 pm and ending at 4:00 pm EDT (Low availability)
- A late afternoon session beginning at 5:00 pm and ending at 8:00 pm EDT
You can register for the Virtual Public Hearing here. Speakers will be assigned slots in the order that requests are received.
The virtual public hearing provides interested persons the opportunity to present information, comments or views concerning EPA's proposal. Oral testimony is limited to five (5) minutes for each person. The time limit is firm; after a commenter’s five minutes have passed, their microphone will be muted. This will be strictly enforced. Speakers are asked not to present or submit at the hearing any confidential business information or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. A verbatim transcript of the hearing will be submitted to the docket.
EPA is accepting written public comments through Regulations.gov until May 18, 2020. Individuals who are speaking at the Virtual Public Hearing may also provide written materials related to their oral comments. A link to upload a pdf document of any relevant comments or addendum they wish to provide will be provided at registration as well as emailed to all participants on April 13, 2020. All materials will be submitted into the EPA docket before it closes.
For additional questions about the Virtual Public Hearing, please see the Q&A section below or send email to [email protected].
Frequently Asked Questions
- Q: Do I need to be a scientist in order to provide public testimony?
- A: No! While we definitely want to hear from scientists, researchers, public health professionals, and industry representatives, anyone is invited to provide public comments.
- Q: I’m not much of a public speaker - is there another way to provide commentary on this proposal?
- A: Yes! EPA is accepting written public comments through Regulations.gov until April 17, 2020. UCS has developed a guide to help you submit effective comments.
- Q: Can I watch this virtual public hearing even though I’m not providing public comments?
- A: Answer: Yes! The hearing is public, and will be streamed via a youtube link. Bookmark this page and return to it on the morning of April 14 for access to the Youtube stream.
- Q: What software should I download/have ahead of time, to ensure I’m ready to provide public comments?
- A: The Virtual Public Hearing will be hosted on Zoom. If you’re using a desktop/laptop, simply visit the link you’re emailed before the hearing. If you’re using a mobile device (smart phone, chromebook, tablet), just be sure to download the Zoom app on your device. It only takes a minute!
- Q: I’ve never used Zoom before—what do I need to know?
- A: Zoom is a really user friendly platform (part of the reason we chose it!). You can Join a Test Meeting to familiarize yourself with Zoom.
- Q: I don’t have a laptop or desktop at home. Can I still participate?
- A: Yes—mobile devices will also work!
- UCS recognizes that many people use public libraries, schools, and other resources for accessing technology. We realize many of these resources are closed right now in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the EPA has moved ahead with this deadline, which we are required to meet.
- Q: I have a conflict on April 14, or I will be unable to access a reliable Internet connection, so I am unable to speak. Can someone speak on my behalf?
- A: Yes! Please be sure that your proxy identifies themself at the beginning of your statement, and that they’re speaking on your behalf. You may also submit written comments at any time before May 18, 2020, through Regulations.gov.