New report highlights the importance of EPA’s efforts to increase transparency in regulatory process

A new report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s (CEI) Angela Logomasini titled “EPA Transparency Rule Will Bolster Science and Improve Rulemaking” offers important perspective and critical facts about EPA’s proposed Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science rule. This important report comes at a critical point in EPA’s rulemaking process as it just held a public comment hearing last week.

Some critics of the proposal have framed it as an underhanded plot by EPA to censor science, which couldn’t be further from the truth. As noted in one of our previous blog, the rule seeks to build on efforts by the Obama Administration to “increase public access to research data while protecting proprietary interests, intellectual property, and personal privacy.”

Thankfully, the new report from CEI addresses the claims by the rule’s detractors and explains why they are wrong:

“…many of these criticisms are based on misunderstandings about how the rule would work and what it contains. Much of the hype is from those who fear that transparency will weaken regulations, but whether it makes regulations more extensive or scales them back is not the point. The goal is to ensure that the best science informs regulators so that they can design rules to best protect public health. Promoting the fundamentals of good science—transparency and reproducibility—will help achieve that goal.

And the report concludes by noting:

“Arguments against the rule that claim that it constitutes an assault on science, would violate privacy, or would prevent useful research from informing regulators are without merit. The rule simply supports fundamental principles of scientific research. It contains provisions to protect privacy and provide exceptions that allow regulators to consider quality research that is not fully transparent because of privacy concerns. It will help ensure that regulators are informed by the best science so they can design rules that protect public health while not imposing counter-productive burdens on society.”

CEI also points out some of the key features of the proposal that would strengthen the American public’s confidence in our environmental regulations and the science that underpins them:

  • The scope of science to which the rule applies is limited. The rule covers “dose response data and models underlying pivotal regulatory science that are used to justify significant regulatory decisions regardless of the source of funding or identity of the party conducting the regulatory science.” Basically, that means the rule covers the key scientific studies the EPA uses to justify major regulations—those expected to impose costs of $100 million or more a year or that are expected to have other significant adverse impacts. Accordingly, it does not cover every EPA regulatory activity, such as routine permitting decisions, voluntary initiatives programs, or research programs. However, any EPA research used to justify major rules would need to meet transparency standards.
  • The rule protects privacy and confidential business secrets. It specifically directs the EPA to ensure data it relies upon is “publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent validation,” and to do so “in a fashion that is consistent with law, protects privacy, confidentiality, confidential business information, and is sensitive to national and homeland security.”
  • The rule allows the EPA to rely on research that is not publicly available in certain situations. The rule specifically stipulates that the EPA can still use research that the agency cannot make publicly available in cases when it is “not feasible” to do so in a way that is, again, “consistent with law, protects privacy and confidentiality, and is sensitive to national and homeland security.”

The bottom line is this proposal will strengthen EPA’s regulatory process by helping ensure that it is relying on the best available science—science that is reliable and unbiased—and by making the underlying research and data publicly available in ways that protect personal privacy, confidential business information, proprietary interests and intellectual property rights.

We encourage you to read CEI’s new report to learn more about the importance of the agency’s proposed rule and why you should support it.

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