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March 20, 2018

The EPA Gets Much-Needed Transparency Reform

Scott Pruitt moves to make sure the public can view the science behind recommended regulation.

A looming policy change means the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will no longer have the luxury of hiding behind surreptitious studies that form the sometimes-rocky foundation for rules and regulations.

Under existing protocol, the EPA is not required to make public the literature from which regulations are fabricated. But Administrator Scott Pruitt has told The Daily Caller that a policy shift will ban “secret science” and make future regulations contingent on the evidence that backs them being viewable by the public.

According to Pruitt, “We need to make sure [the] data and methodology are published as part of the record. Otherwise, it’s not transparent. It’s not objectively measured, and that’s important.” He also noted, “When we do contract that science out, sometimes the findings are published; we make that part of our rule-making processes, but then we don’t publish the methodology and data that went into those findings because the third party who did the study won’t give it to us.”

Pruitt’s right: “You and every American citizen across the country deserve to know what’s the data, what’s the methodology that was used to reach that conclusion that was the underpinning of … rules that were adopted by this agency.” Frankly, it’s a shame this measure hasn’t been a mainstay from the beginning.

Without accountability and transparency, career officials at the EPA have extreme leeway in deciding what is and is not a legitimate scientific finding. It creates the perfect environment for regulatory abuse. A devious person is basically free to contrive anything he or she desires.

Like polling, science can be engineered to reflect grievances or bias. It’s natural and healthy to assume that people or agencies that want to hide their methodologies when such massive economic tolls are at stake have far more than just privacy concerns in mind. It’s far likelier they are protecting an agenda.

We’ll never know how many billions of dollars have been wasted through years of faux scientific justification, but kudos to Pruitt for rectifying the problem.

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