Pruitt's New EPA Rule Would Make Some Science Off-Limits

EPA head says he's pushing for transparency in decision-making
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2018 7:56 AM CDT
985 Scientists Write to Pruitt to Advise Against New Rule
In this April 3, 2018, file photo, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks at a news conference at the EPA in Washington.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

There's a contentious new issue surrounding Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt, and this one has nothing to do with security. Pruitt on Tuesday suggested a new rule that would allow the EPA to only make use of scientific studies whose data has been made publicly available in full. He called it a way to bring transparency to the EPA's decision-making process; the Washington Post reports it's a change conservatives have been hankering after for some time. To understand why many scientists aren't pleased with the proposal, know these two words: epidemiological studies. A rep for the American Association for the Advancement of Science tells NPR that these studies, which can look at the effects of things like pesticides or pollutants, often don't adhere to Pruitt's standard for good reason.

"Those studies involve people like you and me, signing confidentiality agreements that the scientists doing the studies won't reveal my personal health information," Sean Gallagher explains. "It involves private data." The Post reports that a letter sent to Pruitt on Monday in advance of his announcement was signed by 985 scientists who called the move a "restricting" one that would lead to "policies and practices that will ignore significant risks to the health of every American." As far as risks go, others have taken issue with Pruitt's assertion that the move would put an emphasis on science that is "reproducible." As a rep for the Union of Concerned Scientists says to the Los Angeles Times, "You can't ethically go back and redo studies on the impact of lead in drinking water on kids." (More Scott Pruitt stories.)

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