EPA's New Regulations Could Limit Some Studies Its Policies Are Based On

As reported by the New York Times, Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, announced a new EPA regulation on Tuesday. Many scientists contend that the new EPA regulation will forever deteriorate the agency's ability to protect public health. Under the new rule, the EPA will only allow scientific studies to be used if the primary data of the study is made public.

Because a great number of studies rely on private health information from study subjects, this would greatly limit the number of studies available for consideration. Studies, like the ones they used to examine the effects of city water (like in Flint, Michigan), would be thrown out if the data used has private information. This would also erase decades of scientific research from being used in future considerations.

Officials for the EPA said that the new rule will be subject to a 30-day comment period. Though it is up against a drawn-out bureaucratic process, if the regulation is finalized it will be difficult for future administrations to undo. Environmental groups and public health experts have sworn to challenge the new regulation in court.

Photo of rally against Scott Pruitt of the EPA
Getty Images | Drew Angerer

The announcement was made at an invitation-only meeting at the EPA headquarters; no major news outlets were invited and Scott Pruitt didn't take any questions. Pruitt said that the new regulation will advance the transparency of the agency and described it as a "banner day." But many scientists are adamantly against this move.

As documented by Forbes, nearly 1,000 scientists signed a letter to Scott Pruitt urging him to not advance with the planned rule.

"There are ways to improve transparency in the decisionmaking process, but restricting the use of science would improve neither transparency nor the quality of EPA decisionmaking...This would negatively impact EPA public protections that reduce levels of lead, harmful chemicals, and fine particle pollution, among others."
This isn't the first time Scott Pruitt has created a regulation that limits scientists. Last November, Pruitt ruled that scientists and other researchers who hold research grants through the EPA cannot serve on established panels that advise the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt said that the regulation was to avoid conflicts of interest. While many Republican lawmakers support the new regulations that Pruitt has been implementing, critics are growing more concerned that he is simply undercutting the agency he spent years suing prior to becoming its administrator.