05/11/2020 - Laura Bloomer

Agency leans on 1870s ‘housekeeping’ law to block science

Tag: E&E News

EPA is trying to use a 19th-century statute giving department heads the right to manage personnel and internal record keeping to contain the science it uses when drafting regulations, including those on greenhouse gases. The March supplementary proposal for a rule EPA bills as improving transparency of the science and modeling that underpin important agency work points to an obscure “housekeeping statute” enacted in 1874. It has roots in laws enacted under President Washington when early federal agencies were founded. The proposed rule in question, known as “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science,” would banish long-used scientific studies from future rulemaking processes if they rely on data that isn’t made public…But environmental attorneys say the proposed rule, by barring EPA from using the latest science in setting rules or maintaining models, would interfere with the agency’s statutory responsibilities under the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and other substantive statutes. “It certainly hasn’t been used independently as a basis for promulgating a rule that will effectively change the way the agency fulfills its statutory mandate,” said Laura Bloomer, a legal fellow at Harvard Law School’s Environmental and Energy Law Program. “I do think that this is just a different type of rule.”

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