"They sat at the Agency and said, 'What can we do to reimagine authority under the statutes to regulate an area that we are unsure that we can but we're going to do so anyway?'"
When he said those words, Scott Pruitt was talking about the Obama administration. But it seems to be a pretty accurate description of the "transparency" proposal he issued last week.
Everyone agrees that it would be good to increase the public availability of scientific information for independent validation. But Pruitt's proposal is designed to provide EPA with a license to ignore studies that it views as insufficiently transparent – for example, when it cannot agree with investigators over how to protect patient confidentiality if health data is made public. This would allow it to ignore inconvenient evidence about the dangers of various forms of pollution. The proposal cites a string of congressional enactments as its basis, with no explanation of their relevance. But then it asks the public for suggestions about whether there are additional or different provisions it should be citing. Obviously, EPA is not at all confident that it has found the right legal peg on which to hang the proposal.
In my view, the federal statutes not only fail to support the proposal but instead require consideration of all relevant scientific evidence. The provisions cited by the EPA proposal provide flimsy support – thus the plaintive cry for legal assistance ...