EPA ends the use of "secret science" in crafting regulations

Just in case liberals didn’t already have enough reasons to pin EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s picture to their dart boards, he’s just rolled out another policy change which will force the “party of science” to rely on actual science when pushing for regulatory changes. Promising to eliminate “secret science” in EPA deliberations, Pruitt is ordering all scientific studies used when considering new regulations to include publicly available data and methodologies. This was announced in an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“We need to make sure their data and methodology are published as part of the record,” Pruitt said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Otherwise, it’s not transparent. It’s not objectively measured, and that’s important.”

Pruitt will reverse long-standing EPA policy allowing regulators to rely on non-public scientific data in crafting rules. Such studies have been used to justify tens of billions of dollars worth of regulations.

EPA regulators would only be allowed to consider scientific studies that make their data available for public scrutiny under Pruitt’s new policy. Also, EPA-funded studies would need to make all their data public.

“When we do contract that science out, sometimes the findings are published; we make that part of our rule-making processes, but then we don’t publish the methodology and data that went into those findings because the third party who did the study won’t give it to us,” Pruitt added.

In other words, science is not being excluded from any EPA studies. The agency is simply ensuring that groups conducting studies publish the data used to reach the conclusions they forward to the EPA so it can be examined and potentially challenged if it’s found to be faulty. Surely nobody who’s really interested in following the science could object to that, right?

Wrong. Democrats were immediately arguing against such a move, saying that forcing research organizations to publish their figures “would reveal confidential patient data.” That’s a rather odd argument in a couple of different ways. First of all, there’s a lot of data collected for various studies used by the EPA which have nothing to do with medical records. Examples include all of the groundwater studies done when the Obama administration was considering banning fracking.

But even in cases where medical information is required, the groups conducting the study were able to obtain the patient data. As Steve Milloy, the publisher of JunkScience.com was quoted as saying, California regularly makes such data available under the name, ‘Public Use Death Files.’ Other medical information can be compiled and have the patients’ names and other identifying personal information scrubbed. This is already done on a regular basis.

In fact, barring some subject which might compromise national security – such as the handling of tactical weapons materials – it’s difficult to imagine many true, scientific studies which couldn’t publish their underlying data, making it available for peer review. So if you’re still opposed to federal agencies wanting to see such data, the next logical question to ask is precisely what it is that you’re hiding.