Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposed rule requiring data transparency, if finalized, would be a major reform of the agency’s scientific and regulatory process.
Not only will Pruitt’s proposal against “secret science” require data transparency, the rule will also require EPA officials to take a hard look at the scientific basis for models used in regulations to calculate the effects of changes in air pollutants.
In particular, the EPA will “evaluate the appropriateness of using default assumptions, including assumptions of linear, no-threshold dose response, on a case-by-case basis.” The linear, no-threshold (LNT) model is a favorite among environmental activists because it shows the biggest benefits to reducing air pollution.
LNT models show the same public health benefits of reducing pollutants at every level, including at extremely low levels below what EPA already considers safe. Critics argue LNT models overstate the risks of air pollutants and are used to inflate the benefits of regulations.
LNT modeling is typically used for calculating the effects of radiation. However, scientists have criticized government’s use of LNT for radiation risks since it shows harmful effects at every level, even below background levels.
Research published by Edward Calabrese, a toxicologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, found LNT modeling was adopted based on a “mistake” made by the National Academy of Science in the 1950s.
“It has never been scientifically valid or validated. It’s adoption has been harmful and the source of much unneeded regulation and hysteria,” Steve Milloy, publisher of Junkscience.com, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“As a real-life example, 1,200 people died as a result from the Fukushima nuclear disaster — not from the radiation, but from irrational fear of radiation based in the LNT,” said Milloy, who’s worked for years to bring transparency to EPA science.
The EPA also applied LNT modeling to air pollution regulations, often yielding similar health benefits from reducing extremely low levels of pollution as from reducing very high levels.
Democrats and environmentalists oppose Pruitt’s transparency policy, calling it an attempt to restrict the amount of science the EPA is allowed to consider in crafting regulations.
“This has nothing to do with transparency and everything to do with helping out Pruitt’s industry benefactors,” Ana Unruh Cohen, a climate scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.
However, conservative groups say scientific studies used to craft regulations should be subject to transparency requirements. Doing so would ensure the robustness of EPA science.
“This pro-science approach should be a no-brainer; it is absurd that some people suggest that transparency is somehow anti-science,” Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Angela Logomasini said in an emailed statement.
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