Sen. Tom Carper: Pandemic Highlights Why EPA’s ‘Secret Science’ Rule No Good

By: - March 25, 2020

Sen. Tom Carper, the Environment and Public Works Committee’s ranking member, on Wednesday said the Environmental Protection Agency should withdraw its “Secret Science” rule because it could hamper the agency’s ability to respond to crises, including the coronavirus pandemic.

“The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has illustrated the importance of ensuring rapid access and response to scientific information, as well as the utilization of that information,” Carper, D-Del., wrote to EPA Andrew Wheeler in a letter made public Wednesday. “Unfortunately, if this rule is finalized, I fear the result will be just the opposite.”

The “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” rule, often referred to as the “Secret Science” rule, was first proposed in April 2018.

It would significantly limit the scientific and medical research that the government can use to determine public health regulations and require that scientists disclose all of their raw data before the agency could consider an academic study’s conclusion.

“It is … possible that studies that could be usefully relied upon during a pandemic or other crisis would be systematically excluded from being used in EPA’s scientific and regulatory efforts well before the next pandemic or other crisis [that] occurs if this rule is finalized,” Carper wrote.

“For example, since the proposed rule would systematically exclude studies that do not meet EPA’s criteria for independent validation, critical studies that would otherwise inform influential scientific information will not be used or incorporated into key documents,” he added. 

The EPA told the Hill the rule “enables independent validation of scientific conclusions is important to advancing the Agency’s mission.”

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