A.G. Schneiderman, Leading Coalition Of 8 AGs, Calls On EPA Administrator Pruitt To Halt Proposed Science “Transparency” Rule – Which Would Limit Use Of Scientific Evidence In Protecting Health And Environment

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

May 7, 2018

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AG Coalition Calls On EPA – Before Going Any Further With Proposal – To Consult With National Academy of Sciences, Other Independent Scientific Groups on “Profound Potential Impacts” Of Limiting Agency Science 

EPA Urged To Withdraw Proposal or Extend Comment Period to Allow Sufficient Time for Science Consultation and Public Review, Input

Schneiderman: It’s Absurd to Consider Limiting Scientific Evidence Used in Decisions that Impact New Yorkers’ Health and Environment

NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, leading a coalition of eight Attorneys General, today called on the Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to halt a proposed rule that would limit the body of scientific evidence that the EPA could consider when adopting regulatory standards for protecting public and environmental health. The Attorneys General called on the EPA to consult with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and other independent scientists and science organizations before moving forward with proposed changes to how EPA uses science in its decision-making. 

“It’s absurd that the Environmental Protection Agency would consider limiting the scientific evidence used in its decision making – although it’s certainly not surprising, as the Trump administration continues to put special interests before New Yorkers’ health and environment,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Leading independent scientific organizations have strongly objected to the Trump EPA’s proposal. The administration should immediately halt this proposal and consult with truly independent scientists and organizations before moving forward. Attorneys General haven’t hesitated to take the Trump administration to court, and we’ll continue to use the full power of our offices to protect those we serve.” 

In today’s letter, the coalition expresses deep concern about the “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” rule, proposed on April 30, 2018.  This concern “arises both from the truncated timeline under which EPA seeks to change fundamental agency policy and from the vagueness of the proposal.”  The coalition argues that a review of the proposal by NAS and other independent scientists and organizations is necessary “[i]n light of the far-reaching impacts the proposal could have on EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment.”

A number of major independent scientific organizations has expressed concern about the Trump EPA proposal.  For example, editors of leading peer-reviewed scientific journals, including Science and Nature, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published a joint response to the proposal cautioning that “[e]xcluding relevant studies simply because they do not meet rigid transparency standards will adversely affect decision-making processes.”  The American Association for the Advancement of Science issued a statement that “[t]his proposal appears to be an attempt to remove valid and relevant scientific evidence from the rule-making process.”

If Administrator Pruitt refuses to withdraw the proposal, the coalition calls for the current 30-day comment period for “this tremendously consequential proposal” to be extended by at least 150 days. The extension would provide for appropriate consultation with the NAS and other independent scientists and science organizations on the proposed changes, and to allow the public and other stakeholders sufficient time “to evaluate the proposal and its implications for the agency’s ability to meet its obligation to protect public health and the environment under federal environmental laws.”  The letter argues that a much more deliberate pace than the current 30-day comment period is necessary “given the profound potential impacts on the regulatory processes for all or nearly all of the statutes EPA implements and enforces.”

Joining Attorney General Schneiderman in today’s letter are the Attorneys General of California, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.