In Victory for Public Health, Biden’s EPA Reverses Trump-Era ‘Secret Science’ Rule

“The Biden administration is making clear that the best available science, and not political interference from industry, will guide the EPA’s decisions on protecting the public from pollution.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-26-2021

Photo: Mobilus in Mobili/flickr/CC

Climate action advocates applauded the Biden administration Wednesday after the Environmental Protection Agency announced a reversal of its Trump-era “secret science” rule, which limited the research the agency could use in its regulatory work.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the agency is intent on utilizing “the best available science and data to support our work to protect the public from pollution.”

“The Biden administration is making clear that the best available science, and not political interference from industry, will guide the EPA’s decisions on protecting the public from pollution,” said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

The so-called “secret science” rule was first proposed by former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who resigned in 2018 amid numerous ethics scandals. Pruitt’s successor at the agency, Andrew Wheeler, was a former coal lobbyist.

Under the rule, EPA scientists were barred from using many epidemiological studies of the effects of pollutants, chemicals, and other public health threats on the grounds that such research contains private health information about subjects.

The EPA’s decision to rescind the restriction formalizes a ruling by a federal court in February, which vacated the rule.

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post reported that the Biden administration has now overturned 34 of former President Donald Trump’s regulatory rollbacks.

“Undoing the damage done by the industry lobbyists Trump hired to run the EPA is an enormous undertaking,” said Cook. “Thankfully it is a top priority for the president and Administrator Regan.”

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