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‘Secret Science’ Rule Could Limit EPA Virus Efforts, Carper Says

March 25, 2020, 8:27 PM

The top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee asked the EPA to withdraw its “secret science” rule, saying it would hamper the agency’s ability to respond to crises, including the coronavirus pandemic.

“The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has illustrated the importance of ensuring rapid access and response to scientific information, as well as the utilization of that information,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), wrote to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler in a letter that was made public on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, if this rule is finalized, I fear the result will be just the opposite.”

  • The EPA’s April 2018 proposal would bar the agency from using scientific research that isn’t or can’t be made public, marking a change from its decades-old approach to using science in rulemaking.
  • The EPA has said the rule merely attempts to make science transparent and available for independent validation, and that it will maintain the protection of confidential and personally identifiable information.
  • Carper wrote that “placing time-consuming barriers to the use of scientific information could in some cases be more than a mere annoyance or ministerial task; it could be fatal,” and cited three examples of research that could apply to EPA’s responsibilities in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, referring to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
  • Earlier this month, the EPA proposed a supplement to the proposal, expanding it to apply to “influential scientific information,” even if that information isn’t used in writing regulations.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephen Lee in Washington at stephenlee@bloombergenvironment.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bloombergenvironment.com; Chuck McCutcheon at cmccutcheon@bloombergenvironment.com; Anna Yukhananov at ayukhananov@bloombergenvironment.com

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