EPA Sued Over Proposed Science Transparency Rule

August 9, 2018

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York this week, requesting that court compel the Agency to produce documents responsive to its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on EPA’s “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” proposed rule.

“EPA’s proposal would imperil public health protections that help keep Americans safe from life-threatening air pollution, toxic chemicals, and other dangers,” said EDF Attorney Ben Levitan. “Americans have a right to know about proposals like these that could put their families at greater risk, and about any special interests those proposals may serve. EPA has a legal obligation to release this information to the public.”

The proposed rule would limit the use of non-public scientific studies and data by the Agency in future rulemakings.  The proposed rule functionally implements a bill sponsored by House Science, Space, and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), the “Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act of 2017” (HONEST Act), which was passed by the House in 2017.  

The HONEST Act requires EPA to use the best available science in its work, which must be made publicly available online for review while ensuring that trade secrets and confidential business information are safeguarded from disclosure.  A companion bill also was introduced in the Senate. 

Industry groups have complained for years that EPA publishes rules, regulations, or assessments predicated on science that is never disclosed, thereby depriving companies and other stakeholders from validating of the underpinnings of the Agency’s actions.