ARA: EPA Proposes Rule to Improve Science Used in Regulations

According to EPA's release, the rule will ensure that the regulatory science underlying Agency actions is fully transparent. ( EPA )

On April 24, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt proposed a rule to strengthen the science used in regulations issues by EPA. According to EPA's release, the rule will ensure that the regulatory science underlying Agency actions is fully transparent, and that underlying scientific information is publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent validation.

"The era of secret science at EPA is coming to an end," said Pruitt." The ability to test, authenticate, and reproduce scientific findings is vital for the integrity of rulemaking process. Americans deserve to assess the legitimacy of the science underpinning EPA decisions that may impact their lives."

EPA's statement went on to say that the proposed rule is in line with the scientific community's moves toward increased data sharing to address the "replication crisis"-a growing recognition that a significant proportion of published research may not be reproducible. The proposal is consistent with data access requirements for major scientific journals like Science, Nature, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences as well as recommendations from the Bipartisan Policy Center's Science for Policy Project and the Administrative Conference of the United States' Science in the Administrative Process Project.

Under the Obama Administration, EPA had come under criticism for using science that was neither peer reviewed nor was the underlying raw data available to the public (or even to EPA) for review. The Obama EPA had proposed a cancellation of the chlorpyrifos label on the basis of this questionable epidemiology study, when historically EPA has made its regulatory decisions based on toxicology rather than epidemiology and used data that was available for peer review. (Toxicology establishes cause and effect; epidemiology only suggests correlations). EPA's own Science Advisory Board criticized this change in scientific approach as untested.

Pruitt's announcement that the Agency will rely only on sound and transparent scientific information for its regulatory decisions is a welcome change in policy and return to first principles.