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27 April 2018, 11:21 | Katrina Lee
Scott Pruitt's Political Patron Now Questions the EPA Chief's Ethics
The measure was billed by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt as a way to boost transparency for the benefit of the industries his agency regulates.
Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, perhaps his biggest ally in Congress, even says it's "appropriate to have a hearing, insofar as any accusation having to do with his office is concerned". Pruitt has already changed the standards for who can serve on EPA's advisory committees, barring scientists who received EPA grants for their research while still allowing those funded by industry.
"This is not about all of the details that scientists need to scrutinize each other's work".
Some researchers collect personal data from subjects but pledge to keep it confidential - as was the case in a major 1993 study by Harvard University that established the link between fine-particle air pollution and premature deaths, as well as more recent research that tapped a Medicare database available to any scientific group guaranteeing confidentiality of the personal information. The appropriateness of the assumptions and choices are not adequately evaluated in the standard peer review process.
In addition to House Science, Space and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the audience included Will Happer, an emeritus physics professor at Princeton University and possible candidate to be Trump's science adviser; Marc Morano, who runs a climatescience denial website; Steve Milloy, a Trump EPA transition team member; and Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. There is an entire cottage industry that focuses on the problems of science, which creates the false public impression that much needs to be fixed, he said.
In a press release yesterday, EPA cited the editorial policies of Nature and Science magazines as a justification for its proposed rule.
Many scientists argue that applying a standard to public health and environmental studies that is not now required by peer-reviewed journals would limit the information the EPA could take into account. "Enhancing the transparency and validity of the scientific research relied upon by EPA strengthens the integrity of EPA's regulatory actions and its obligation to ensure the agency is not arbitrary in its conclusions". "The science that we use is going to be transparent".
The Washington Post complained his proposal to use only studies that can be fully accessed by the public would "block the agency from relying on long-standing, landmark studies linking air pollution and pesticide exposure to harmful health effects". And this isn't the first time that Pruitt has followed their playbook. She called the proposal a "sham" that would "limit the EPA's ability to use the best research on the health effects of pollution, which form the basis for vitally important protections". She has fought efforts by her GOP colleague Smith to get a version of the proposed rule passed into law for years. It's a way of undoing public health regulations, Kaufman says. Pruitt, who had described the change during interviews with select media over the past month, said it will "enhance confidence in our decision-making" and prove "durable" because it will be issued as a regulation. That is why it is essential that the data and models be placed in the public domain for a more rigorous evaluation by qualified experts. "Open access to scientific data fosters good policymaking". According to the Congressional Budget Office's review of the 2015 proposed rule, implementing the bill would cost about $250 million a year for multiple years - working out to between $10,000 and $30,000 for each study used. He adds that Pruitt and others who have pushed for the rule are not interested in open science but in blocking the use of valid research in regulatory decisions. "They are trying to pull the carpet out from under scientists". "Improper research techniques, lack of accountability, disciplinary and political groupthink, and a scientific culture biased toward producing positive results together have produced a critical state of affairs".
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