MN officials attack ‘dangerous’ EPA transparency rule

Published 8:07 am Friday, May 18, 2018

By Kirsti Marohn

MPR News/90.1 FM

The heads of two Minnesota state agencies have expressed fierce opposition to a proposal from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to restrict the type of scientific research it uses to set regulations.

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In a strongly worded letter, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner John Linc Stine and Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm criticized the proposed rule, which EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said is aimed at “strengthening transparency.”

Stine and Malcolm urged Pruitt to withdraw the proposal, which they say is “dangerous” and will not provide transparency or clarity.

“Rather, it causes confusion and mistrust, and it will threaten the lives of real people,” the letter stated.

The EPA’s proposed rule would require it to use only scientific studies where the underlying data is publicly available when developing regulations.

When announcing the proposed rule last month, Pruitt said in a news release that “the era of secret science at EPA is coming to an end.”

“The ability to test, authenticate, and reproduce scientific findings is vital for the integrity of rulemaking process,” Pruitt stated. “Americans deserve to assess the legitimacy of the science underpinning EPA decisions that may impact their lives.”

The EPA said the proposal is in line with the scientific community’s move toward increased data sharing in response to a “replication crisis” — where a significant portion of scientific research may not be reproducible.

But Stine and Malcolm said the rule would undermine important epidemiological studies that use confidentiality agreements to protect patients’ personal identifying information. Those studies are necessary for understanding the effects of a pollutant on human health, they said.

“It represents a dramatic change in practices of science that we have used for a long time to build our requirements for environmental and public health protection,” Stine said in an interview.