Jan 30 2021: When transparency is not necessarily a good thing

This week a Federal judge in Montana ruled against fast-tracking an EPA rule change that was positioned as being for transparency but was actually a bit of pro-polluter chicanery. The judge did not agree that it was merely procedural but would have an impact on outcomes. The rule may never come to be in the the current Administration. Another just in time event in these early days of the Biden Administration.

Why, though, would something claiming transparency, which we are generally ALL FOR, not be a good thing?

In health studies going back over time, individuals’ health records have been kept private. Many of these studies form the bulwark of anti-pollution regulations. When older rules would come up for renewal, they would have a harder time being renewed under the proposed new rule, which would show a preference for studies that had no such secrets.

Opposition from the science community has been robust.

From a letter submitted earlier last year to the EPA, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest scientific society, they challenged the underlying purpose of the rule as well as dismissing the reason for it (i.e., good research demands access to raw data): “Simply put, excluding the best available science, as this proposed rule would do, puts public health and the environment at risk” and “As has been stated by the scientific community repeatedly in response to this rule and now this supplemental, there are credible procedures for testing results and verifying outcomes with methodologies that do not require access to raw data.”

This back door for polluters most likely will not be opened.

https://www.ucsusa.org/about/news/epa-rule-restricting-science-puts-agencys-mission-risk-0

https://www.aaas.org/sites/default/files/2020-05/EPA-Supplemental-MultiSociety-Comments.pdf

https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/epa-finalizes-much-criticized-transparency-rule-68319

https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/epa-finalizes-much-criticized-transparency-rule-68319