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March 05, 2020

Chairwoman Johnson Statement on EPA Supplemental Rule to Undercut Agency Science

(Washington, DC) – On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency posted its supplemental proposal to its “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” rule, first issued in April 2018. The rule stipulates that for regulations and key scientific activities, EPA can only consider a study “if the data and models are available in a manner sufficient for independent validation.” This undercuts EPA scientists’ ability to consider broad swaths of public health data protected by patient privacy laws and regulations.

“Disturbingly, this draft is an even more extreme assault on the agency’s ability to use the best available science,” said Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). “It extends this attack beyond rulemaking, undercutting its scientists’ ability to use public health data in virtually all activities the Agency undertakes. It gives unprecedented power to a political appointee – in this case, a former coal lobbyist – to cherry pick the science that can be considered. It is incomprehensible to me that after nearly two years of outcry from the scientific community and from Congress, the EPA managed to make this rule even worse. Clearly, EPA has not listened to the overwhelming criticism it received in the 600,000 public comments on the original proposed rule.

“Yesterday, at an Appropriations Committee hearing, Administrator Wheeler said there would be a 30-day comment period on this supplemental rule – an insufficient amount of time to truly assess the harm that the rule would cause. Upon the rule’s publication in the Federal Register, I urge the Administrator to extend the public comment period to at least the length of the original proposed rule’s – 109 days – to allow the public the chance to register its concerns. In addition, EPA ought to hold a public hearing, as the agency did in July 2018 on the original draft.”