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Republicans want answers from Scott Pruitt

27 April 2018

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who has been pursuing President Donald Trump's mission to ease the regulatory burden on business, is expected to unveil the new policy as early as Tuesday afternoon, the sources said. But researchers and science advocates maintain that the rule is little more than a ruse meant to limit the EPA's access to scientific studies and ultimately, to prevent new health and environmental regulations from going into effect. "It's going to be reproducible". At the same time, it would allow the use of studies, including those conducted by Science Advisory Board members selected by Pruitt and funded by the American Petroleum Institute, that downplay health risks of air pollution (Climatewire, April 11).

Scientists are always discussing ways to make their work more transparent, accessible and instructive for the community at large, Goldman added.

"Subsequent research shows ambient levels of PM2.5 have little or no adverse effects on human health, yet the regulations remain in place, like zombies, killing jobs and endangering public health and well-being by unnecessarily raising the cost of energy and causing unemployment".

Environmentalists said Pruitt's motive is not to improve scientific integrity but to stifle regulation.

Senior Government Relations Officer for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Sean Gallagher, told NPR news that Pruitt's new rule will limit the "best available" science that can be used by the EPA.

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For years, EPA critics have pushed Congress to forbid the agency from relying on the studies that comprise the bulk of the independent research on fossil fuels on public health.

Some researchers collect personal data from subjects but pledge to keep it confidential - as was the case in a major 1993 study by Harvard University that established the link between fine-particle air pollution and premature deaths, as well as more recent research that tapped a Medicare database available to any scientific group guaranteeing confidentiality of the personal information.

"The era of secret science at EPA is coming to an end", said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Scientists will have trouble recruiting study participants if the rule is enacted, she predicted, even if they pledge to redact private information before handing it over to the government.

Many scientists note that, in practice, the policy will prove to be unworkable.

A range of scientific organizations are already campaigning to block the rule from being finalized.

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In letter dated to the administrator, a total of 985 scientists, organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists, urged Pruitt to toss the proposal.

Pruitt says the move will increase transparency at the EPA, and hopefully boost confidence in the agency's decision making. "If fully implemented, this proposal would greatly weaken EPA's ability to comprehensively consider the scientific evidence across the full array of health studies".

Costa says the proposed rule reads like it was written by and for industry.

The administration has appointed people without scientific credentials to important positions and cut funding for environmental and scientific programs.

The Environmental Protection Network, a group of former EPA employees, issued a report Tuesday stating that many older studies - in which the original data sets were either not maintained or stored in outdated formats - would be eliminated under the proposed rule.

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In a House office building last week, Smith feted a group of researchers from the National Association of Scholars who routinely attack climate science and who say in a new report that there is a "crisis" in science because too much of it can not be reproduced. "I would be fearful that the very foundations of clean air and clean water could be undermined".

Republicans want answers from Scott Pruitt