by Countable | Updated on 3.27.18
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has announced that he will no longer allow the agency to use scientific studies that do not include publicly available data. Supporters of Pruitt’s move refer to the studies on public health and the environment by independent organizations and private companies as "secret science", but critics say that characterization is misleading and dangerous.
Pruitt appears to be basing his new policy, the details of which have not yet been announced, on the HONEST Act, which requires that any studies used by the EPA be "transparent" and “reproducible”. All data used to draw study conclusions must be “publicly available online in a way that allows for independent analysis and reproduction of the research results.”
Pruitt has said, "We need to make sure their data and methodology are published as part of the record. Otherwise, it’s not transparent. It’s not objectively measured, and that’s important."
Critics of Pruitt’s move, however, maintain that such a policy will cripple the agency’s ability to develop good policy. In an op-ed in the New York Times, Gina McCarthy, an environmental health and air quality expert, and Janet McCabe, a Senior Fellow at the Environmental Law & Policy Center, argue that many peer-reviewed, public health studies are built on individual health records that are confidential by law. The data is summarized to be compliant with the law.
Additionally, studies conducted by industry groups are often based either on studies involving individuals who have been guaranteed privacy of their personal information or trade secrets.
These are the types of studies that were used to formulate many of the environmental and public health policies in place today. Half of them would be disallowed under Pruitt’s new policy.
An analysis by the Congressional Budget Office of a similar bill introduced in 2015 estimated that it would cost upwards of $250 million a year for several years to establish new systems for data collection, presentation and dissemination. It did not account for the costs to redact all confidential personal or business information.
Other agencies, like the Food and Drug Administration, use the types of studies that Pruitt will no longer allow to be used by the EPA. It is unclear if Pruitt’s move will prompt similar changes in other agencies.
Do you think policy decisions should only be based on studies involving publicly available data? Why or why not?
Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!
— Asha Sanaker
(Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr / Creative Commons)
Written by Countable
There is no “secret science” you idiot. Science is right out there for everyone to see. Scientists are proud of their discoveries, they are happy to defend their work, and they share for the betterment of mankind.
What the heck is “secret science?” Is this what you call, “things you don’t understand” now?
Pruitt and the trump administration seem determined to ignore anything that does not fit their narrative or line their pockets. Corporate greed is not a good enough reason to roll back regulations that were put in place to protect our environment.
Pruitt has consistently made it clear what his policy concerning global warming will be, anything that does not fit his narrative is not science. Until we vote this administration with its unqualified cabinet members out, unfortunately it’s more of the same.
This is a moot point. As a scientist, I have been shocked to see reports ad actions taken by "Non Scientists" and pseudo-scientist" and questionable data that is left without any scrutiny because of omission. Demand proof that can be verified. Yesterday the press announced the "discovery" of a new organ in the human body. "The interstitium". I tried without success to see the origin of this and the list of references was very vague. But the public will rush to give financing to a ghost in an article. Science without proof--is not science--it is Foo-Foo!.
How about no more Pruitt
Scientific facts are not secret and have no bias. Mr. Pruitt could learn something from the scientists he’s trying so hard to silence.
This man is mentally ill and should be put away
While on the surface this sounds logical and “feels good”, in reality it stifles publication of legitimate data which is useful in policy and rule making, especially certain data from legally protected sources. This then is yet another political move to stifle the scientific basis for formulating environmental and public health measures. It basically says that if you don’t like what the data tells you, suppress it for political purposes. This is not to mention the actual costs that would be incurred to rewrite the rules and hidden costs of denying what the suppressed data would tell regulators. We need open dialog, not censorship.
Shocked disbelief of profound ignorance, unbelievable inappropriateness, and inability to understand or discharge the duties of his position unless Pruitt is lying for profit like The majority of Trump appointees leads me to beg you to get them out before it’s too late.
Impeach this whole administration starting with the climate change deniers
Scott Pruitt’s war on science must end.
These ridiculous policies are just fueling the blue wave. One more item on the list of things to fix when the tsunami hits.
REPUBLICANs & Pruitt included have criticized the EPA and Obama Administration for creating regulations that were“OVERREACHING” the laws they are based on. YET, the ‘HONEST act’ as it is labeled has yet to be passed by the Senate or signed into law by the President. For Pruitt to make policy on a non-existent law would be a far worse overreach than any Obama era regulation...
How about the lack of professional knowledge in the making of lethal injections? This is another ploy to undermine faith in science, like they have done with schools, the media, and even our social media. Make no mistake they are attempting to control the media around Trump the same as around Putin. This are cult tactics! Keep your eye on the ball in Arizona 8. This is our next shot at scoring points in the match for our political freedoms and civil rights. Resist the urge to jump on any Trump administration policy bandwagon.
Secret science is what you get by revising the data so it fits your conclusions. That is not OBJECTIVE science it’s SUBJECTIVE propaganda.
Why not allow all information to be available in order to make sound decisions? By allowing only certain sources, Pruitt is securing incomplete and lopsided conclusions. Pruitt is NOT a scientist. He is a lawyer who was elected as an Oklahoma representative, with contributions to his campaign made by the oil and gas industry. Pruitt sued the EPA at least 14 times regarding the agencies actions while Oklahoma’s Attorney General. All along, Pruitt has stood firm in his rejection of the scientific consensus that human activities are the primary contributor to climate change and that carbon dioxide is the primary contributor. By allowing Pruitt’s decision, the U.S. will be woefully behind other countries who are using all information available by professionals who are educated in fields pertaining to the issues. It appears we are stuck with Pruitt!
Pruitt’s “secret science”..is nothing other than rejection of valid/reliable independent experts working in cooperation with the U. S. government & it’s experts in pursuit of what is for the real benefit of us all-based on Facts not ‘hocus pocus’-which, it seems, Pruitt is willing to rely on.
If we are going to have an EPA, then the research should be transparent and the conclusions supported by facts.
The only “secret science” is the BS that oil and other industries use to force politicians to ignore actual science.