Author(s): Naomi Oreskes
Beware: transparency rule is a Trojan Horse
Last month, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a new rule to "ensure that the regulatory science underlying Agency actions is fully transparent, and that underlying scientific information is publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent validation". The alleged justification is a crisis in science over replicability and reproducibility.
At face value, the proposal might seem reasonable. It isn't.
Many EPA watchers believe that the rule targets long-term epidemiological studies that linked air pollution to shorter lives and were used to justify air-quality regulations. In my view, the rule could keep that and other high-quality evidence from being used to shape regulations, even if there are legitimate reasons, such as patient privacy, why some data cannot be made public. It could potentially retroactively exclude an enormous amount of respected evidence. This would make the EPA less able to serve its function "to protect human health and the environment". The window for speaking up is closing fast.
There is a crisis in US science, but it is not the one claimed by advocates for the rule. The crisis is the attempt to discredit scientific findings that threaten powerful corporate interests. The EPA is following a pattern that I and others have documented in regard to tobacco smoke, pollution, climate, and more. One tactic exploits the idea...
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