EPA Administrator Signs Proposed Rule on “Transparency in Regulatory Decisionmaking”

This week, the EPA Administrator signed a proposed rule covering the science that is used to develop and support EPA’s regulations.  It has long been a goal of some in Congress and the Trump administration, to assure that the scientific data used to develop regulations can be independently and verified, and is fully transparent to the public.  It aims to eliminate the so-called “secret science” that long time EPA critics believe provide the basis for controversial EPA regulations like the Clean Power plan which the Administration has rolled back.  Conversely, critics of the proposal have characterized it and similar legislation as a way to restrict the scientific basis for regulations and generally make it more difficult to craft regulations protecting public health.

The proposed rule would apply to “dose response data and models underlying pivotal regulatory science that are used to justify significant regulatory decisions.”  In other words, everything in rule development would not be covered but only the key studies supporting major rules.  However, dose response modeling can be a significant part of developing the Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLGs) for drinking water regulations, so this rule could apply to many of our rules. Under this proposal, EPA would have to provide additional information about the scientific basis for their rules and also provide independent peer review.  Finally, the Administrator may grant exemptions when the underlying data can’t be publicly available without disclosing private personal data or confidential business information.

The proposal will be published soon in the Federal Register and EPA will collect comments on all aspects of the rule for 30 days after publication.  Numerous specific comment requests are included in the proposal such as alternate vehicles to achieve these goals, the impact on regulatory programs, and the types of actions that the rule should cover, as well as what information should be protected from release.

See additional information in the EPA News Release.  ASDWA will notify states when this proposed rule is published and anticipates making comments.  States are also encouraged to provide comments to EPA when appropriate.