Lifting the veil on 'secret science' at the EPA
A proposed rule announced Tuesday by Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, is intended to bring much-needed transparency to agency rule-making.I see no compelling argument for basing decisions about the environment in secret. There should be an open and honest debate about proposed EPA rules and regulations. If they can't withstand such a debate then they should not be imposed on the public.
The environmental lobby is positively apoplectic about the proposal (naturally), even though it aligns perfectly with its long-held commitment to the public’s “right to know” principle.
The proposed regulation would require the EPA to ensure that the scientific data and research models “pivotal” to significant regulation are “publicly available in a manner sufficient for validation and analysis.”
Despite existing rules on government use of scientific research, federal agencies routinely mask politically driven regulations as scientifically-based imperatives. The supposed science underlying these rules is often hidden from the general public and unavailable for vetting by experts. But credible science and transparency are necessary elements of sound policy.
The opposition from greens and much of the media greeting Pruitt’s announcement is, frankly, hypocritical in the extreme. Opponents claim that the EPA’s regulatory power would be unduly restricted if the agency is forced to reveal the scientific data and research methodologies used in rule-making.
But that is precisely the point. The EPA should no longer enjoy free rein to impose major regulations based on studies that are unavailable for public scrutiny.
Their claim that research subjects’ privacy would be violated is groundless. Researchers routinely scrub identifying information when aggregating data for analysis. Nor is personal information even relevant in agency rule-making.