Pruitt proposes drastic restriction on valid environmental research for safeguards

Credit: EPA

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is bringing back a deceiving proposal that would allow only environmental research with public raw data to be used as the basis for new protections. In theory, this sounds like a good idea. “Secret science,” as Pruitt calls it, sure sounds scary. And the EPA’s PR campaign makes sure to repeat those nice-sounding buzzwords, like honesty and transparency. In reality, this decision could make it significantly harder to pass crucial safeguards by drastically restricting the research available. For example, studies on health impacts often keep the participants' personal information confidential, meaning they do not release this raw data—which is standard practice in peer-reviewed scientific studies using private health information. Existing protections are also at risk, as Pruitt's proposal could potentially invalidate key rules across the EPA, like ones based on consequential, decades-long studies linking air pollution to early deaths, or certain chemicals to cancer. Pruitt may wax poetic about the importance of scientific rigor, but the proposal is yet another plan to knock the wind out of life-changing environmental science.

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