Science Battle at the EPA ⚗️
No more “secret science” behind regulations
The EPA released a statement announcing that Administrator Scott Pruitt will end the agency’s use of ‘secret science’ to craft regulations. Pruitt explainedthat scientific studies must now make methodologies and underlying data public if their findings are to be used to justify new regulations.
Was the data not public before?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Lots of regulations rely on research done on data sets that are not entirely public. For example, to protect the privacy of patients, health records that might indicate whether certain conditions lead to an increased risk of death cannot be published.
NY Times: Scott Pruitt’s Attack on Science Would Paralyze the E.P.A.
FiveThirtyEight: There’s Still No Such Thing As Sound Science
The right views prior EPA regimes as ‘political activists’ who pushed unnecessary regulations with invalid science - then kept their data secret to avoid challenges to their laws. Articles argue that data must be made public so that analyses can be replicated and findings validated (that’s how science works, after all). Regulations hinder freedom and limit economic growth, they argue, so the public deserves transparency.
The left believes these actions are politically motivated. They think Pruittwants to limit the EPA’s ability to pass regulations to protect corporate profits. Articles point out that, while practical concerns often preclude data from being made public, the scientific studies in question are always peer-reviewed - which is a rigorous and acceptable standard to ensure regulations are built on valid findings.
Do we need transparency at the EPA?
While Administrator Pruitt makes a compelling argument, it seems the real focus here is on the level of environmental regulations over the quality of science at the EPA. Pruitt has raised the bar for what research can be used to drive new regulations - and that’s a good thing if you believe in fewer regulations. However, he’s also put entire swaths of scientific understanding out of bounds for regulators. This will make it harder to regulate things we know are bad for our health/environment.
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