Pruitt Scorns Science Once Again

WASHINGTON – Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency's administrator, announced today that the EPA would ignore scientific studies if they don’t conform to a set of arbitrary and implausible specifications.

If adopted, this proposed regulation would mean the agency wouldn’t consider many peer-reviewed research results when setting important health safeguards.

The following is a statement by Ana Unruh Cohen, climate scientist and managing director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“Scott Pruitt’s disdain for sound science and health protections knows no bounds. Just as he ignores the conclusions of climate scientists, Pruitt now wants to disregard the robust scientific results that have helped us clean up our air and water since the toxic heyday of the 1970s.

“It’s time for a new direction at the EPA, one that accepts the simple scientific result that toxic pollutants like mercury and arsenic are dangerous to our own health and that of our children.

 “This has nothing to do with transparency and everything to do with helping out Pruitt’s industry benefactors.

 “NRDC will do all we can to stop this arbitrary proposal from ever being adopted.”


Medical studies, clinical reports, and real-world field studies all include data and information that cannot be made public without violating confidentiality and patient protection rules under HIPPA. Such studies are used by EPA to provide realistic credible information to the public, including consumers, manufacturers and businesses. For example:

  • A landmark study in 1993 established that the tiniest particles of pollution (PM 2.5) can cause heart problems, lung cancer and early death. Industry critics, borrowing an argument they had used to try and prevent regulation of tobacco, decried the research as relying on “secret science.” But there is nothing secret about it. In fact, after complaints from members of Congress in the 1990s, an industry-friendly science firm reanalyzed the data of that landmark Harvard Six Cities study and reconfirmed the basic results. Other scientists have also analyzed the same or other data since then and reached the same basic conclusion: Microscopic pollutants are dangerous to our health. If this proposed regulation is adopted, it would deny EPA the ability to rely upon peer-reviewed studies like the Harvard Six Cities research, which involve commitments to patient confidentiality.
  • Scientists reported that the highly toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos impairs brain development and function in children exposed prenatally. The Trump administration is doing the bidding of the agrochemical industry by permitting the use of the pesticide on food crops. The foundational research, published in numerous prestigious scientific journals, is under attack from industry. Pruitt’s announcement undercuts EPA technical experts from using this critical evidence of harm to children.

EPA routinely relies upon models such as pollution projection models, economic models, health benefits models and other that inform EPA’s rules and regulations. Many of these models including proprietary or confidential components.

# # #

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​