May 15, 2018

Twenty Senators Urge Extension of Comment Period on Pruitt Rule to Favor Industry-Backed Science

Washington, DC – Twenty Senators are asking Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt to extend the deadline for weighing in on a proposed rule that would dramatically shrink the body of scientific knowledge the EPA can use in crafting public health and environmental protections.  Pruitt’s proposal would apply new “transparency” standards to block medical studies, clinical reports, and other rigorous, peer-reviewed scientific research based on health-related data that cannot be made public due to patient privacy concerns.  This would limit the EPA’s use of independent science and benefit industries that the EPA regulates.  The Senators join state attorneys general, public health organizations like the American Lung Association and American Medical Association, environmental groups, and others in calling for an extension of the extraordinarily short 30-day public comment period for a rule of such complexity and far-reaching implications for public health and the environment.

“It does not strengthen policies based on scientific evidence to limit the scientific evidence that can inform them; rather, it is paramount that the full suite of relevant science vetted through peer review, which includes ever more rigorous features, inform the landscape of decision making,” the editors of Science Magazine said in a joint statement regarding the rule. “Excluding relevant studies simply because they do not meet rigid transparency standards will adversely affect decision-making processes.”

Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tom Udall (D-NM), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) signed the letter.

Unless Pruitt extends the deadline, comments on the draft rule are due on May 30.

Full text of the Senators’ letter is below.  A PDF copy is available here.

The Honorable Scott Pruitt


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Washington, D.C. 20460

Dear Administrator Pruitt:

We write to respectfully request the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) extend the comment deadline to July 30, 2018 on the proposed rule “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science,” docket number EPA-HQ-OA-2018-0259, and hold one or more public hearings.

This proposed rule is expected to have a significant effect on the types and number of scientific studies EPA considers during rulemaking.  The rule also implicates patient privacy.  With these concerns in mind, many public health groups, including the American Lung Association, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Preventive Medicine, the American Thoracic Society, and the American Public Health Association, have similarly requested an extension of the comment deadline and public hearings.   

EPA would be well served by giving stakeholders adequate time to draft and submit thorough, well-reasoned comments and by conducting at least one hearing to hear public feedback.  Doing so will help ensure that EPA receives the highest quality comments from the broadest array of stakeholders.


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