EPA Announces it is Ending the Use of ‘Secret Science’

Published April 25, 2018

Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a new rule aimed at improving the quality and transparency of the science the agency relies on when developing regulations.

Pruitt announced the change at an April 24 event at EPA headquarters.

“The era of secret science at EPA is coming to an end,” Pruitt said. “The ability to test, authenticate, and reproduce scientific findings is vital for the integrity of the rule-making process. Americans deserve to assess the legitimacy of the science underpinning EPA decisions that may impact their lives.”

The new rule, subject to a 30-day comment period, will require the underlying data of scientific studies used to make federal environmental and energy regulations be open to public inspection, possible criticism, and independent verification.

‘Long Overdue’

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Science Committee, has been among the fiercest critics of the use of secret, untestable science as a justification for regulations at EPA and other agencies. Smith attended and spoke at the event lauding Pruitt as a “courageous head of the EPA” for moving forward with the rule change.

“Surely, we can all agree on two things,” Smith said. “First, we need clean air and water. And second, the EPA’s regulations should be supported by legitimate and publicly available scientific data.

“Administrator Pruitt’s announcement ensures that data will be secret no more,” said Smith. “For too long, the EPA has issued rules and regulations based on data that has been withheld from the American people. Today, Administrator Pruitt rightfully is changing business as usual and putting a stop to hidden agendas.”

Tim Huelskamp, Ph.D., president of The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News, called Pruitt’s action a win for transparency.

“Another week at the EPA, another victory for transparency by Scott Pruitt,” said Huelskamp in a press release. “For decades, the EPA has improperly claimed massive power to regulate nearly every aspect of our economy and lives.

 “It is long overdue that the EPA should make such data and collection methods available for public review and analysis,” Huelskamp said.

‘Doing Better Science’

Kent Lassman, president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who attended EPA’s event announcing the change, told the Daily Signal Pruitt’s action will improve the science used to make regulations.

 “The EPA is now putting in place steps to buttress the scientific method,” said Lassman to the Daily Signal. “Part of this is being able to reproduce the analysis that provides counsel to regulation decisions. This means we will be doing better science.”

Steve Milloy, a senior policy fellow with The Heartland Institute who served as part of the incoming Trump administration’s EPA transition team, also attended the EPA event saying actions justified on the basis of hidden science are responsible for many of the woes of the coal industry.

“Much to Administrator Scott Pruitt’s credit, the Trump EPA has decided to end the use of such ‘secret science’ as a basis for regulatory actions that have harmed our economy, put companies out of business, and harmed consumers,” Milloy said in The Heartland Institute’s press release. “During the Obama administration, the EPA wantonly destroyed 94 percent of the market value of the coal industry, killed thousands of coal mining jobs, and wreaked havoc on coal mining families and communities, all based on data the EPA and its taxpayer-funded university researchers have been hiding from the public and Congress for more than 20 years.

“Administrator Pruitt’s decision to bring science into the sunlight spells the end of junk science, which has fueled overregulation by the EPA for years,” said Milloy. “Second only to President Trump himself, Administrator Pruitt is the most valuable public servant America has.”

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

Official Connections

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX): https://lamarsmith.house.gov/; https://lamarsmith.house.gov/contact/email-lamar