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EPA's "Transparency Rule" Unlikely to Boost Use of Scientific Data

Critics of a new "Transparency Rule" touted by the EPA say it could do the opposite when it comes to the use of scientific data to make policy. (geralt/pixaby)
Critics of a new "Transparency Rule" touted by the EPA say it could do the opposite when it comes to the use of scientific data to make policy. (geralt/pixaby)
July 9, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The departure of Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt comes as the agency is trying to implement a controversial rule that opponents say could reduce the amount of scientific data considered when drafting environmental regulations.

The Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science rule purports to ensure the regulation process is accessible to all. But Rachel McIntosh-Kastrinsky with the group Medical Advocates for Healthy Air said although data transparency is a good idea, there are implications if it's required as part of a regulation.

"If it is enacted as a rule from EPA, it can cause EPA to eliminate scientific studies,” McIntosh-Kastrinsky said. “And therefore, potentially, enacting this rule would eliminate the use of certain science, and therefore impede environmental regulation."

Her group is joining others to oppose the rule, which is open for public comment until August 16.

In late June, the 44-member Scientific Advisory Board to the EPA asked the agency not to revise or finalize the rule until the board can analyze it and offer comments. If enacted, the rule could exclude clinical studies derived from human databases, impede the development of new science and exclude historical studies.

While the departure of Pruitt may have come as a surprise late last week, McIntosh-Kastrinsky said the agency is expected to continue its efforts to enact this rule.

"Looking at Andrew Wheeler, who is the now-acting administrator, and his background, I imagine they will probably proceed with trying to implement this rule,” she said. “However, with all rules that are proposed at the EPA and on the federal level, they have a comment period."

The EPA already has an external review body, known as the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee. Its mission is to provide a diverse and independent peer review of the science considered by the agency when establishing policies.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - MN