Scott Pruitt’s Effort to Expose ‘Secret Science’ Has Environmentalists Scared Stiff
By Diane Katz
A proposed rule announced Tuesday by Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, is intended to bring much-needed transparency to agency rule-making.
The environmental lobby is positively apoplectic about the proposal (naturally), even though it aligns perfectly with its long-held commitment to the public’s “right to know” principle.
The proposed regulation would require the EPA to ensure that the scientific data and research models “pivotal” to significant regulation are “publicly available in a manner sufficient for validation and analysis.”
Despite existing rules on government use of scientific research, federal agencies routinely mask politically driven regulations as scientifically-based imperatives. The supposed science underlying these rules is often hidden from the general public and unavailable for vetting by experts. But credible science and transparency are necessary elements of sound policy.
The opposition from greens and much of the media greeting Pruitt’s announcement is, frankly, hypocritical in the extreme. Opponents claim that the EPA’s regulatory power would be unduly restricted if the agency is forced to reveal the scientific data and research methodologies used in rule-making.
But that is precisely the point. The EPA should no longer enjoy free rein to impose major regulations based on studies that are unavailable for public scrutiny.
Their claim that research subjects’ privacy would be violated is groundless. Researchers routinely scrub identifying information when aggregating data for analysis. Nor is personal information even relevant in agency rule-making.
Meanwhile, the EPA and other federal agencies are duty-bound to protect proprietary information.
Transparency in rule-making is vital to evaluating whether regulation is justified and effective. It is also essential to testing the “reproducibility” of research findings, which is a bedrock principle of the scientific method.
It takes real chutzpah for the champions of environmental “right-to-know” laws to now claim that the EPA should not be required to make public the scientific material on which regulations are based.