Scott Pruitt may not have the ethics to be appointed town dog catcher and may be on his way back to Oklahoma, but that hasn’t deterred him from attempting to pervert the scientific process to undermine protections for the environment and possibly workers.
We wrote a while back about Pruitt’s plan to make much of the science underpinning the link between polluted air to premature deaths — or the link between any chemicals and harm to human health. In what former OSHA head Dr. David Michaels called “weaponized transparency,” Pruitt argued that “no longer consider scientific research unless the underlying raw data can be made public for other scientists and industry groups to examine.” The problem is that the air pollution study used the private medical and occupational histories of more than 22,000 individuals. And many environmental and workplace health protections rely on similar data.
Well, the Washington Post reports that Pruitt plans to officially propose the rule today.
The move reflects a broader effort already underway to change how the agency conducts and uses science to guide its work. Pruitt has already changed the standards for who can serve on EPA’s advisory committees, barring any scientists from serving if they received EPA grants for their research while still allowing those funded by industry….Many scientists argue that applying a standard to public health and environmental studies that is not currently required by peer-reviewed journals would limit the information the EPA could take into account when crafting federal limits on everything from power-plant emissions to which chemicals can be used in agriculture and in homes.
And not that things like the law have been known to stop Pruitt from doing or saying whatever he wants, but his proposal may nevertheless run into problems in court:
In unanimous decisions in 2002 and 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the EPA is not legally obligated to obtain and publicize the data underlying the research it considers in crafting regulations.
In the 2002 case, brought by the American Trucking Associations, Inc., two judges appointed by Ronald Reagan and one named by Bill Clinton wrote that they agreed with the agency that such a requirement “would be impractical and unnecessary.” The government’s defense had noted that “EPA’s reliance on published scientific studies without obtaining and reviewing the underlying data is not only reasonable, it is the only workable approach.”
Lawmakers will have a chance to question Pruitt about this (as well as a few little ethical issues that have surfaced recently) when he testifies about the EPA budget before not one, but two House committees on Thursday. Pruitt is sure to be grilled about his ethical “lapses” by Democrats. Will Republicans be able to ignore all 27 5,000 pound elephants in the room?
Oh, and if you have a minute (and the patience to get through the advertisement) check out this video where Pruitt argues that carbon dioxide is not a major contributor to climate change. It may be my imagination, but both Pruitt and the don’t-call-me-a-climate-denier CNBC reporter look awfully uncomfortable making that argument with a straight face?