EPA’s proposed transparency rule represents a major failure to protect the health of all Americans

May 20, 2020

EPAIn a comment submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week, researchers at Silent Spring Institute warn once again that EPA’s proposed rule “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” would severely limit the use of science the agency considers when setting limits on toxic chemicals in our air and water.

At the heart of the proposed rule is a requirement that researchers disclose their raw data before the agency can use study results to support regulatory decisions. In a previous comment, staff scientist Katie Boronow and executive director Dr. Julia Brody identified how this requirement could jeopardize confidential information about study participants and lead to the exclusion of critical environmental health studies, including those that form the basis of existing regulations, such as current limits on air pollutants.

In an effort to address this and other issues, EPA released a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking earlier this year. However, writing in a new comment, Boronow and Brody cite several empirical analyses conducted by Silent Spring that demonstrate the risks associated with data sharing. The authors contend the revisions in the supplemental do not go far enough:

“Our foremost concerns are that EPA is able to use the best-available science to support regulatory decision-making without infringing on participants’ rights to privacy. The Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rule falls short on both counts: it holds the potential to diminish the impact of irreplaceable public health research and suppress future research participation, and it proposes inadequate protections for participant privacy. The passage of this rule would represent a major failure by EPA to protect the health of all Americans.”

Resources or References

Silent Spring’s Comment on Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science (Docket No. EPA-HQ-OA-2018-0259), Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (May 15, 2020)

"Silent Spring Institute pushes back on EPA’s transparency rule" (August 23, 2018)