Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt will soon end his agency’s use of “secret science” to craft regulations.
“We need to make sure their data and methodology are published as part of the record,” Pruitt said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Otherwise, it’s not transparent. It’s not objectively measured, and that’s important.”
Pruitt will reverse long-standing EPA policy allowing regulators to rely on non-public scientific data in crafting rules. Such studies have been used to justify tens of billions of dollars worth of regulations.
EPA regulators would only be allowed to consider scientific studies that make their data available for public scrutiny under Pruitt’s new policy. Also, EPA-funded studies would need to make all their data public.
“When we do contract that science out, sometimes the findings are published; we make that part of our rule-making processes, but then we don’t publish the methodology and data that went into those findings because the third party who did the study won’t give it to us,” Pruitt added.
“And we’ve said that’s fine — we’re changing that as well,” Pruitt told TheDCNF.
Conservatives have long criticized EPA for relying on scientific studies that published their findings but not the underlying data. However, Democrats and environmental activists have challenged past attempts to bring transparency to studies used in rule making.
Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith pushed legislation to end the use of what he calls “secret science” at EPA. Pruitt instituted another policy in 2017 backed by Smith against EPA-funded scientists serving on agency advisory boards.
“If we use a third party to engage in scientific review or inquiry, and that’s the basis of rulemaking, you and every American citizen across the country deserve to know what’s the data, what’s the methodology that was used to reach that conclusion that was the underpinning of what — rules that were adopted by this agency,” Pruitt explained.
Pruitt’s pending science transparency policy mirrors Smith’s HONEST Act, which passed the House in March 2017. Smith’s office was pleased to hear Pruitt was adopting another policy the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology chairman championed.
“The chairman has long worked toward a more open and transparent rule-making process at EPA, and he looks forward to any announcement from Administrator Pruitt that would achieve that goal,” committee spokeswoman Thea McDonald told TheDCNF.