Career Employees Allege EPA Leaders Silenced Them on Key Deregulation Effort – Government Executive

“The Environmental Protection Agency suppressed the work of its career employees and dismissed legitimate science in taking a key deregulatory action, dozens of former and current employees have alleged. The employees are asking investigators to discipline the top officials responsible. 

The complaint, issued by the nonprofit advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, concerned orders from EPA’s top brass during its process of repealing the Waters of the United States rule implemented during the Obama administration. The current and former employees, made up mostly of EPA staff but also of Army Corps of Engineers and Fish and Wildlife Service workers, called on the EPA inspector general and scientific integrity officer to launch investigations and hold the political appointees accountable. They named EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and a half-dozen top officials in the agency’s offices of Water and General Counsel in their complaint. …

Inquiries at EPA’s Science Integrity Office have spiked under the Trump administration. Employees at agencies like EPA, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have previously told Government Executive they are facing unprecedented interference from political leadership, including rollbacks of previous work and meddling in research. Scientists reported being left out of key meetings, feeling fearful in their offices and a general sense of low morale. A Union of Concerned Scientists survey in 2018 found federal employees felt stymied by censorship and interference from political appointees, including 50% who said political considerations were hindering agencies’ ability to make science-based decisions….”

Career Employees Allege EPA Leaders Silenced Them on Key Deregulation Effort – Government Executive

“The Environmental Protection Agency suppressed the work of its career employees and dismissed legitimate science in taking a key deregulatory action, dozens of former and current employees have alleged. The employees are asking investigators to discipline the top officials responsible. 

The complaint, issued by the nonprofit advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, concerned orders from EPA’s top brass during its process of repealing the Waters of the United States rule implemented during the Obama administration. The current and former employees, made up mostly of EPA staff but also of Army Corps of Engineers and Fish and Wildlife Service workers, called on the EPA inspector general and scientific integrity officer to launch investigations and hold the political appointees accountable. They named EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and a half-dozen top officials in the agency’s offices of Water and General Counsel in their complaint. …

Inquiries at EPA’s Science Integrity Office have spiked under the Trump administration. Employees at agencies like EPA, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have previously told Government Executive they are facing unprecedented interference from political leadership, including rollbacks of previous work and meddling in research. Scientists reported being left out of key meetings, feeling fearful in their offices and a general sense of low morale. A Union of Concerned Scientists survey in 2018 found federal employees felt stymied by censorship and interference from political appointees, including 50% who said political considerations were hindering agencies’ ability to make science-based decisions….”

EPA employees push ‘bill of rights’ to protect scientific integrity | TheHill

“Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unionized employees have drafted a bill of rights, asking the agency to recognize the need for scientific integrity, research into climate science and the ability to enforce environmental laws without political interference….”

EPA wants to rollback environmental regulations despite criticism from scientific advisers. – The Washington Post

“The Environmental Protection Agency is pushing ahead with sweeping changes to roll back environmental regulations despite sharp criticism from a panel of scientific advisers, most of whom were appointed by President Trump.

The changes would weaken standards that govern waterways and wetlands across the country, as well as those that dictate gas mileage for U.S. automobiles. Another change would restrict the kinds of scientific studies that can be used when writing new environmental regulations, while a fourth would change how the EPA calculates the benefits of limiting air pollutants from coal-fired power plants.

Three of the four draft reports, posted online Tuesday, suggest that the administration’s proposals conflict with established science. …”

EPA fight against ‘secret science’ slowed amid pushback from researchers – ABC News

“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….”

EPA quietly puts controversial ‘secret science’ plan on hold — for now – ThinkProgress

“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….”

Environmental Protection Agency Rule on ‘Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science’ – SPARC

“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….”

EPA: Wheeler punts Pruitt’s science overhaul — Wednesday, October 17, 2018 — www.eenews.net

“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….”

 

Zinke’s controversial, EPA-style ‘secret science’ order isn’t going over well with Democrats – ThinkProgress

“House Democrats are calling on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to stand down from plans to reign in the use of confidential data when crafting agency policies, a controversial move that follows similar efforts to limit the use of science at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In a letter sent Thursday, House Natural Resources ranking member Raúl Grijalva and other representatives expressed “alarm” over a Sep. 28 “Promoting Open Science” order distributed to Interior Department staff. The order instructs staff to prioritize “publicly available, reproducible, peer-reviewed” science in their crafting of policy and decision-making….

Rather than helping ensure “the best available science” is used in policymaking, Grijalva and his co-signers say, approaches like the one taken by the Interior Department will only favor partisan interests….

“We are skeptical that this waiver provision is anything but another layer of protection for the fossil-fuel industry at the expense of scientific integrity,” the letter emphasizes, concluding by calling on Zinke to rescind the order….

Zinke’s “open science” order appears to be following the EPA’s lead. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), a long-time denier of climate change, has used his position as House Science, Space, and Technology chairman to encourage so-called “secret science” orders without much success or support from his peers. Under former administrator Scott Pruitt, however, the EPA embraced such ideas and the agency has pushed ahead with efforts to implement limitations on science….”

Dem lawmakers request Interior chief rescind order on ‘open science’ | TheHill

“Democratic lawmakers are asking Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to rethink his secretarial order “Promoting Open Science,” fearing it will do just the opposite.

Four House Democrats, led by Rep. Raul Grijalva (Ariz.), the ranking member on the House Natural Resources Committee, sent a letter to Zinke on Thursday urging him to rescind the Sept. 28 order that they worry will lead to gagging scientists….

Critics of the EPA rule call it the “secret science” rule and argue that it would exclude consideration of a number of important scientific studies whose evidence can’t be made fully public due to patient privacy concerns.

The lawmakers raised that concern in their letter to Zinke.

“Both policies threaten the suppression of scientific information not aligned with this administration’s agenda under the auspices of improving science based decision making,” the Democrats wrote….”