In the latest deluge of lame-duck finalizations that will increase pollution and compromise the health of our families, to the benefit of polluting industries, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler has finalized a Censored Science Rule. The rule, “Strengthening Transparency in Pivotal Science,” dangerously curtails the use of science by EPA, restricting the use of rigorous scientific studies when the underlying data is not publicly available — even if it is confidential patient information.
The Censored Science Rule categorically undermines science-based policymaking at EPA. This is a last-gasp action from an administration scrambling to damage the agency charged with protecting our families from pollution. Sadly, this fits right in with Administrator Wheeler’s anti-science agenda. He has disbanded advisory panels, rushed scientific review without adequate expertise, barred EPA-funded scientists from serving on advisory panels while creating no equivalent limits on the appointment of industry-funded scientists, and more — all changes that undermine EPA’s ability to adequately consider the science. Now he has placed bureaucratic blinders on EPA policymakers, despite vigorous protest from leading scientific organizations and the agency’s own Science Advisory Board.
This rule will prevent EPA from considering the best available science while making decisions that affect the health of our families and communities. Even without a pandemic — against which this administration has ignored the advice of its own scientists — this effort to censor science is a cynical and radical move on the part of an administrator determined to cripple his own agency.
The Censored Science Rule also continues Wheeler’s dubious tradition of systematically constraining public input on life-or-death pollution actions. This rule was likely signed last week, yet Administrator Wheeler chose to hide this from the public in order to serve his media purposes. He has flouted procedural requirements and shown a total disregard for transparency, even as he promotes a rule that purports to be about ‘increasing transparency.’ His disregard for our families is deeply troubling.
We call on President-elect Biden to suspend this grave error on day one, and work to repeal it going forward.
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