Politics-driven ‘secret science’ initiative isn’t going over well with EPA staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. - APRIL 2: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt listens to Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers president and CEO Mitch Bainwol speak to the press at a news conference at the Environmental Protection Agency on April 2, 2018 in Washington, D.C. CREDIT: Jason Andrew/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, D.C. – APRIL 2: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt listens to Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers president and CEO Mitch Bainwol speak to the press at a news conference at the Environmental Protection Agency on April 2, 2018 in Washington, D.C. CREDIT: Jason Andrew/Getty Images

Internal efforts to introduce a “secret science” initiative requiring all data used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) be made public has been met with concern not only from scientists and environmentalists but from members of EPA head Scott Pruitt’s own staff.

Plans to adopt anti-science rules pushed by longtime climate denier and House Science, Space, and Technology Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) have seen resistance from employees within the EPA, Politico first reported Friday. Smith has pushed for restricting the EPA’s use of scientific evidence, arguing the agency should only use scientific studies based on public data.

As critics have pointed out in the past, the impact would be to impose a dramatic burden on EPA officials effectively limiting their ability to introduce new protections for health and the environment.

And now, according to internal emails obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and shared with ThinkProgress, even members of the EPA with deep industry ties are concerned about the initiative’s implications.

In the emails, Nancy Beck, deputy assistant administrator at the EPA chemicals office, expressed worry over that approach. Prior to working at the EPA, Beck worked at the American Chemistry Council, a powerful lobby group whose members include Dow Chemical, DuPont, Monsanto, ExxonMobil Chemical, and Chevron Phillips Chemical.

Writing to Richard Yamada, who works for the EPA’s Office of Research and Development and previously had a role working with Rep. Smith in drafting legislation restricting scientific studies to public data, Beck highlighted the staggering costs associated with requiring data be published, as well as concern over the restrictions on using chemical industry data.

“Making data available is very different than requiring a publication requirement. Such a requirement would be incredibly burdensome, not practical, and you would…

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