HomeWashington Letter2018 ▶ EPA Administrator Pruitt Promises Regulatory Science “Reform”
EPA Administrator Pruitt Promises Regulatory Science “Reform”

This week, at a closed door meeting at the Heritage Foundation, EPA Administrator Pruitt announced his intention to “reform” the science used by the agency in the regulatory process.  While details of the reform are not yet public, it is widely believed that Administrator Pruitt will implement policy that requires all studies used by the EPA to make original data available to the public and discount any studies that are not “reproducible.”  Such a policy would closely follow legislation, known as the Secret Science bill , that was passed by chair of the House Science Committee Lamar Smith (R-TX).  Rep. Smith has often accused the EPA of using “secret science” as the basis for regulatory action.  To address this, Rep. Smith’s legislation would require that any research used by the EPA be made publicly available and substantially reproducible.

While calls for “reproducible science” and “public access” to data sound appealing, the ATS is concerned that these policies will be used to suppress essential research studies.  The ATS notes that many air pollution studies include confidential patient information that could be revealed if the EPA requires original data be made publicly available.  Further, there are concerns with what exactly “original data” might mean.  For example, are the filters collected from air pollution monitors considered “original data”?  If so, it could mean that EPA will now dismiss earlier research – like the Harvard Six City Study or the American Cancer Society Cohort study – that clearly documents the adverse health effects of air pollution. 

The ATS will closely monitor the EPA and provide comment as this policy moves forward.

Last Reviewed: March 23, 2018