AGs urge Pruitt to stop ‘secret science’ plan

Source: Sean Reilly, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, May 8, 2018

EPA should halt planned changes to its standards for scientific research used in writing new regulations and then ask independent experts whether any action is needed, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and seven other Democratic attorneys general urged today.

In light of the potential impact “on EPA’s mission to protect public health and the environment, we ask that you withdraw the proposed rule and convene a process to first consult with the National Academy of Sciences and other independent scientists and science organizations” before deciding whether any changes are in order, they wroteEPA chief Scott Pruitt.

If EPA won’t scrap the proposed rule, then the public comment period should be lengthened from 30 days to at least six months to allow more time to consider “this tremendously consequential proposal,” their letter added.

The proposed rule, published in last Monday’s Federal Register, would effectively bar EPA from using scientific studies in crafting significant new regulations unless the underlying data and models are “publicly available in a manner sufficient for validation and analysis.”

By Pruitt’s description, that approach is intended to bolster public confidence in EPA decisionmaking. Critics see it as a ruse intended to block the agency from considering valid research that could offer evidence in favor of stronger regulations. They’ve also objected to the relatively brief comment period, which is currently set to end May 30. Dozens of advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers have argued that a minimum of 90 days is needed (Greenwire, May 4).

The other attorneys general signing today’s letter, which was also submitted as a comment on the proposed rule, were Xavier Becerra of California, Matthew Denn of Delaware, Tom Miller of Iowa, Janet Mills of Maine, Lori Swanson of Minnesota, Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania and Karl Racine of the District of Columbia.