Just in case liberals didn’t already have enough reasons to pin EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s picture to their dart boards, he’s just rolled out another policy change which will force the “party of science” to rely on actual science when pushing for regulatory changes. Promising to eliminate “secret science” in EPA deliberations, Pruitt is ordering all scientific studies used when considering new regulations to include publicly available data and methodologies. This was announced in an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation.Being able to see the data is fundamental to science. I'm rather shocked that this was even a possibility. I know a lot of science want to be able to keep their data private until they have a chance to publish it in the peer-reviewed literature, I was pretty sure that it was a uniform federal policy that all data produced by federal money become publicly available as soon as possible. Certainly it was always that way with any I produced.
“We need to make sure their data and methodology are published as part of the record,” Pruitt said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Otherwise, it’s not transparent. It’s not objectively measured, and that’s important.”In other words, science is not being excluded from any EPA studies. The agency is simply ensuring that groups conducting studies publish the data used to reach the conclusions they forward to the EPA so it can be examined and potentially challenged if it’s found to be faulty. Surely nobody who’s really interested in following the science could object to that, right?
Pruitt will reverse long-standing EPA policy allowing regulators to rely on non-public scientific data in crafting rules. Such studies have been used to justify tens of billions of dollars worth of regulations.
EPA regulators would only be allowed to consider scientific studies that make their data available for public scrutiny under Pruitt’s new policy. Also, EPA-funded studies would need to make all their data public.
“When we do contract that science out, sometimes the findings are published; we make that part of our rule-making processes, but then we don’t publish the methodology and data that went into those findings because the third party who did the study won’t give it to us,” Pruitt added.
Needless to say, some people suspect Pruit of bad intentions: Scott Pruitt’s Latest EPA Gambit Is As Clever As It Is Evil The objections?
Betsy Southerland, a former EPA official, explained to E&E how releasing raw data leaves scientists open to attacks from industry lobbies who may try to distort information in their own favor.If the data were correctly generated there should be no question of it's validity, if it's not, skepticism is the bad medicine that keeps science honest. And testing different interpretations of the data is one of the main ways science moves forward.
Moreover, requiring the agency to only base new laws on studies with public, reproducible data would prevent a lot of important research from informing policy making.I doubt that is how reproducible is being used in this regard, but it's true that extraordinary cases make for bad generalizations.
That word, “reproducible,” is key. Think of the investigation of the health damages suffered by the Hiroshima survivors, or the environmental impact studies following the BP PLC Gulf of Mexico oil spill: These are events whose baseline conditions can’t be replicated, but are important to science and policy-making alike.