EPA delays advisers’ review of ‘secret science’ rules

Articles The Hill

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has repeatedly rescheduled and delayed a meeting of an advisory board slated to review a controversial proposal that would block the agency from considering studies that don’t make their underlying data public. 

The rule in question is titled “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science,” but it is known as the secret science rule.

Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and other Republicans have railed against “secret science” that they say is used to support regulations even when the data underlying the science is not released. Critics of the rule say scientists sometimes do not have the legal right to make their data public, and that the new rule could endanger public safety by putting up barriers to the use of valid scientific evidence.

The EPA has sought to schedule a three-day teleconference of its Science Advisory Board (SAB) between September and November, according to emails obtained by The Hill. The board was most recently scheduled to meet in early November before the meeting was canceled at the behest of EPA head Andrew Wheeler, with no new scheduled date.

“The SAB teleconference call tentatively scheduled for November 4‐6, 2019 will be delayed,” Tom Brennan, director of the EPA’s SAB staff office, wrote to the committee members in an Oct. 23 email. “The Administrator has asked us to delay the meeting until all new SAB members have been formally onboarded. That process is under way now.”

Critics suspect the delays are a stall tactic allowing the agency to finalize the rule without the public hearing criticism leveled by its own internal board.