16 July 2018
In April of this year, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed a draft policy entitled, “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science,” a wolf-in-sheep’s clothing policy that would undermine how the agency uses science in decision-making.
This misleadingly named draft policy is based on the Secret Science Reform Act, H.R. 1030 and S. 544, and its more recent version, the HONEST Act, H.R. 1430 and S.1794. The scientific community and other stakeholders have long opposed these bills because these pieces of legislation would unreasonably restrict the science the EPA can use to make decisions.
As drafted, the EPA’s proposed policy would be narrower than its legislative cousins, but nevertheless jeopardize the public’s health and well-being by impairing the ability of decision makers to craft current and future legislation based on the best scientific evidence.
The proposed policy is vague about details of implementation and inaccurately claims to use the same requirements that scientific publishers use for data availability. Further, it would allow the Administrator overly broad authority to exclude vital research on a case-by-case basis without a clear process or rationale.
AGU encourages open access to data whenever possible and is a leader in ensuring that data sharing processes are fair, equitable, and transparent but notes that confidential or proprietary information must be protected. Such limitations need not impede the use of peer-reviewed science to inform decision-making and ensure that the agency is able to protect people and communities.
It is our hope that EPA reconsiders this misguided proposed policy on scientific data. AGU and a number of other science organizations are submitting comments on the implications of and needed improvements to the proposed policy. We stand ready to assist the EPA and Acting Administrator Wheeler in developing appropriate procedures for using the best available science to fulfill the agency’s mission of protecting human health and the environment.
Chris McEntee, Executive Director/CEO of the American Geophysical Union
Manager, Strategic Communications
American Geophysical Union