“A furious public response has slowed down the Trump administration’s plan to stop using so-called “secret science,” a move that scientists complained could have restricted the types of research used to regulate toxins, pesticides and pollution….”
“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) appears to have put a deeply controversial plan limiting the use of scientific data in policymaking on hold for the time being. The move follows significant outcry from experts and the agency’s own staff….
On its face, that push for transparency might resonate with some — but experts have repeatedly emphasized that confidential data is private for a reason. Making it public could violate patient privacy or industry confidentiality, in many instances breaking the law and potentially allowing for distortions of the information. Limiting the data government officials can use, meanwhile, could hinder efforts to protect both human health and the environment….”
“SPARC has serious concerns with this proposed rule and calls for it to be rescinded in the detailed response submitted on July 18, 2018. The rule claims to support Open Research Data, however, it calls for the EPA to only use studies whose underlying data is openly available for the purpose of replicating/validating the studies’ conclusions. Basing important policymaking decisions off of studies where the underlying data must be publicly accessible deliberately excludes the use of a wide swath of important data sets – including key longitudinal studies that underpin current clean air and water regulations. SPARC calls for the proposed rule to be rescinded….”
“Acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler has put Scott Pruitt’s plan to restrict the science used in crafting new regulations on the back burner.
The draft rule issued when Pruitt was EPA administrator — titled “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” — was listed under “long-term actions” in the administration’s fall 2018 regulatory plan released last night, with an expected completion date of January 2020.
In regulatory parlance, that means the proposal is not a top agency priority at the moment….”
“On Wednesday, Google launched Dataset Search, a new search engine specifically geared toward collections of data. The company hopes the platform will help scientists to locate datasets quickly and painlessly.
READABLE DATA. According to a blog post, Google started the project by creating guidelines for dataset providers to ensure the search engine could understand the content of a dataset. For example, they suggested that providers should include particular information in the dataset’s metadata, such as how the provider collected the data and who can use it.
Data that follows these guidelines is easier for Google to index the datasets so that the relevant ones show up in search queries.
JUST THE BEGINNING. This first version of Dataset Search includes datasets focused on the environmental and social sciences, as well as datasets from government websites and various news organizations focused on other topics.
According to Google, the number and type of datasets included in the search engine will continue to grow as more dataset providers adopt the company’s metadata guidelines. …”
“Scott Pruit has been ousted as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, but what may be the most damaging aspect of his legacy still looms. EPA is still considering Pruitt’s proposed rule to limit what science the agency can take into account when deciding whether and how to protect the public from pollution. Along with Pruitt’s policy — still in effect — to disqualify some experts from service on scientific committees, the proposal would distort and limit EPA’s ability to take action against toxic chemicals, air and water pollutants, and just about any other danger to health under its purview….
The language EPA has been using to promote its proposal is Orwellian. The agency frames its effort as advancing such core scientific values as transparency and peer review, while the rule would actually prevent the use of reputable scientific studies in determining environmental policy. It would also allow the EPA administrator to substitute his judgment for that of scientists by giving the agency head broad and arbitrary authority to permit the use of some studies while rejecting others.
The proposal has its origins in a trumped-up claim about the use of “secret science,” but the facts instead show why the EPA proposal itself is so dangerous….”
“The mission of OurEnergyPolicy.org is to facilitate substantive, responsible dialogue on energy policy issues, and provide this dialogue as a resource for the American people, policymakers, and the media. By bringing together energy experts in productive national discourse, OurEnergyPolicy.org enhances the potential of identifying, adopting, and implementing effective energy policy. OurEnergyPolicy.org also serves as a one-stop resource hub for all things energy policy, and includes a free Resource Library, aggregated Energy Headlines, national Energy Events Calendar and more….”
“The project, run by scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, and funded in part by the Environmental Protection Agency, is still going all these years later. Known as Chamacos, Spanish for “children,” it has linked pesticides sprayed on fruit and vegetable crops with respiratory complications, developmental disorders and lower I.Q.s among children of farm workers. State and federal regulators have cited its findings to help justify proposed restrictions on everything from insecticides to flame-retardant chemicals.
But the Trump administration wants to restrict how human studies like Chamacos are used in rule-making. A government proposal this year, called Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, could stop them from being used to justify regulating pesticides, lead and pollutants like soot, and undermine foundational research behind national air-quality rules. The E.P.A., which has funded these kinds of studies, is now labeling many of them “secret science.” …”
“The Silencing Science Tracker is a joint initiative of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund. It tracks government attempts to restrict or prohibit scientific research, education or discussion, or the publication or use of scientific information, since the November 2016 election….”
“In March, Pruitt proposed a new “science transparency policy.” Under the proposed rule, when the EPA designs pollution standards and rules, it would use only studies in which the underlying data is public. Pruitt said his policy would prevent the EPA from using “secret science” that cannot be tested by other researchers. But scientists say important findings could be excluded.
One example is research by Harvard University that linked fine particle pollution in U.S. cities with an increase in deaths from lung and heart diseases. The data for the 1993 study was key to the EPA’s setting of health standards that regulate air pollution. But the study’s underlying data is not public because researchers promised confidentiality to their subjects, 8,000 adults and 14,000 children in six cities….”