Groups File Lawsuit Opposing Trump Administration’s Censored Science Rule

Health and environmental advocates are asking a court to reject the Trump administration’s just-finalized Censored Science rule because it threatens the health and safety of Americans, and because it was imposed with an unduly hasty – and illegal – timeframe.

Environmental Defense Fund, the Montana Environmental Information Center, and Citizens for Clean Energy filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana today.

“The Trump administration’s Censored Science rule weakens EPA’s ability to protect Americans from dangerous pollution by restricting its use of the best available science. EPA also violated federal law by making the rule effective immediately, instead of providing the legally required 30-day window,” said EDF senior attorney Ben Levitan. “Our lawsuit asks the court to block this eleventh-hour threat to Americans’ health and safety.”

“This is another attempt by the Trump administration to kick the public in the teeth on its way out the door. It directly targets some of our most important public health protections. We want to ensure that public health standards are established using the best science possible. Imagine telling EPA it should ignore the science when it sets limits of mercury pollution in our air and water or lead in our homes and yards. It’s inexcusable,” said Anne Hedges, Director of Policy and legislative affairs for the Montana Environmental Information Center.

Trump EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler published the Censored Science rule last week. It will undermine the agency’s ability to protect public health and the environment by fundamentally transforming the ways in which EPA may consider and rely on scientific evidence. The rule will restrict EPA’s ability to consider research for which underlying data are not publicly available. However, because legal and ethical rules – like medical privacy laws – can prohibit making that data public, the Censored Science rule will obstruct EPA’s consideration of rigorous scientific studies that are critical to developing public health protections.

The Trump administration rushed the Censored Science rule to the finish line in the last days of its term, and also made it effective immediately upon publication – even though the law clearly requires that substantive rules have an effective date of “not less than 30 days” after publication. In today’s filing, the groups state, “Given that the agency took more than two and a half years to finalize the rule, it cannot credibly claim an urgent need to make it effective thirty days earlier than statutorily required.” (Complaint, Page 13)

The groups are asking the court to set aside the Censored Science rule, and to enjoin its enforcement because its effective date is not 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

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