by Steve Milloy, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow and Junkscience.com Author
As Appearing in the Wall Street Journal
The Environmental Protection Agency will no longer rely on “secret” scientific data to justify regulations, Administrator Scott Pruitt announced last week. EPA regulators and agency-funded researchers have become accustomed to producing unaccountable, dodgy science to advance a political agenda.
The saga began in the early 1990s, when the EPA sought to regulate fine particulate matter known as PM2.5—dust and soot smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter. PM2.5 was not known to cause death, but by 1994 EPA-supported scientists had developed two lines of research purporting to show that it did. When the studies were run past the EPA’s Clean Air Science Advisory Committee, it balked. It believed the studies relied on dubious statistical analysis and asked for the underlying data. The EPA ignored the request.
As the EPA prepared to issue its proposal for PM2.5 regulation in 1996, Congress stepped in. Rep. Thomas Bliley, chairman of the House Commerce Committee, sent a sharply written letter to Administrator Carol Browner asking for the data underlying studies. Ms. Browner delegated the response to a subordinate, who told Mr. Bliley the EPA saw “no useful purpose” in obtaining the data. Congress responded by inserting a provision in a 1998 bill requiring that data used to support federal regulation must be made available to the public via the Freedom of Information Act. But it was hastily written, and a federal appellate court held the law unenforceable in 2003.