WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper, top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, released the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its draft supplemental proposal for the Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science rule, the so-called “Secret Science” rule that would drastically undermine science in agency decision-making.
“Rather than encouraging reliance on the ‘best available’ data and science, this proposal would result in the suppression of scientific research and the censorship of scientists and experts. If there was ever a time for EPA to release an anti-science proposal, it is certainly not now. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a time when our nation needed to embrace science more than we do at this very moment. At a time when the American people are looking to the federal government to be guided by science and lead, and this proposal is far from what our country needs.”
As the federal government responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, examples abound of research that could (if this rule is finalized) at minimum require considerable review time to determine whether or not they meet the requirements of the Secret Science Rule, or considerable review time to determine whether or not they would require an exemption from the rule’s applicability before being used for EPA decision-making purposes. Some examples include:
- This March 2020 survey of existing research describes the interaction of several coronaviruses on surfaces with biocidal agents. EPA is responsible for recommending disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens.
- This November 2003 paper includes a statistical correlation between SARS fatalities in China and higher exposure to air pollution, information that could be relevant to EPA air officials as new criteria pollutant standards are developed.
- This October 2015 paper describes the challenges associated with the sterilization and disposal of medical waste contaminated by Ebola. EPA worked jointly with CDC to develop disposal and sterilization guidelines and could be called on to do the same for COVID-19.
Earlier this month, Senator Carper asked the EPA Inspector General (IG) to open an investigation into potentially unlawful efforts and procedural problems related to the preparation and review of this supplemental proposal.