Trump and Wheeler’s Proposal to Censor Science Imperils Life-Saving Public Health Protections for All Americans and is Flatly Illegal

Environmental Defense Fund submitted formal comments on the EPA’s proposed “Censored Science” rule, demonstrating that it is unlawful, unjustified, and would imperil vital protections such as air pollution limits, drinking water standards, and toxic chemical safeguards. Released in April 2018 by former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the proposed rule would bar EPA from considering some of our most important public health studies in making decisions about protections for human health and the environment.

“Under the Trump administration’s Censored Science proposal, next time there’s a study that shows a danger to our health, EPA may not be able to act to protect the public,” said Dr. Jennifer McPartland, Senior Scientist at EDF. “If the proposal were in place, EPA would be prohibited from considering countless life-saving studies like those that revealed air pollution leads to premature death.”

“EPA uses many high quality, peer-reviewed studies that are broadly available for public and scientific review, yet the Trump administration is using false claims about ‘transparency’ to undermine the use of critical research on health threats like toxic chemicals and air pollution,” added Dr. McPartland.

“The Trump administration’s cynical proposal to censor the science that has protected all Americans from life-threatening pollution is a clear and present danger to our health and safety,” said EDF Senior Attorney Martha Roberts. “EDF will work to ensure EPA makes decisions central to American’s health and safety on the basis of the best available science – as our bipartisan health and environmental laws require.”

The Censored Science rule would bar EPA from using studies when underlying data are not public. EDF’s comments point out that such a requirement would depart from good scientific practice, degrade the quality of scientific decision-making at EPA, and violate EPA’s obligations under the Clean Air Act and other federal laws to consider the best available science. EDF’s comments also point out that the proposal would alter how EPA conducts chemical risk assessments in ways that are clearly out of step with current scientific understanding and that would undermine the protection of public health.

The proposal was developed without consultation with the agency’s Scientific Advisory Board or other scientific authorities, and has been widely criticized by leading scientific organizations and public health organizations. Editors of the nation’s leading scientific journals, the Presidents of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the President of Harvard University and nearly one hundred leading Harvard scientists and medical experts, EPA’s own Science Advisory Board, and other scientific experts have voiced concerns about the proposal over the last few months. The proposal closely resembles failed anti-science legislation that has been stalled in Congress for years.

In addition to EDF’s technical comments filed yesterday, over 60,000 comments have been submitted by EDF members in opposition to the proposal.

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