Attorney General Grewal Leads Opposition to EPA Proposal Limiting Agency's Use of Science

TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today called on the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw its “harmful and deeply flawed” proposal to limit the use of scientific evidence in its decision-making processes.

EPA issued a proposed rule earlier this year which, if adopted, would preclude the agency from considering relevant scientific studies – even when they have been validated by peer review – if the underlying information is not publicly available.

In a letter today to Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Attorney General Grewal describes the proposed rule as “ill-conceived” and “rushed,” and points out that EPA failed to even consult its own Science Advisory Board (SAB).

“Put simply, EPA’s effort to rush this proposed rule out the door without any input from the [Science Advisory Board] or other scientists violates basic principles of good government,” writes Attorney General Grewal, who is joined in the letter by Attorneys General for sixteen other states.

“As part of its ongoing assault on our environment, EPA has now decided that it will refuse to follow what the best scientific evidence demands,” explained Attorney General Grewal. “But federal laws make clear that EPA must base its decisions on the best available and sound science, so EPA’s plan is as legally flawed as it is misguided. I am proud to lead a group of Attorneys General in calling on EPA to withdraw this proposal, and to restore the role of science in federal environmental policy.”

The multi-state letter confirms that EPA’s proposed rule “would violate the very federal laws EPA is required to uphold.” The letter cites a number of key environmental laws, such as the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Clean Air Act, as examples of laws requiring EPA to rely on the “best available science,” “sound and objective scientific practices,” and the “latest scientific knowledge.” As the letter notes, EPA’s refusal to do so simply because the underlying information is not publicly available thus violates those laws.

The letter adds that, despite EPA’s assertion that the proposed rule will not affect any states, “nothing could be further from the truth.” Adoption of the new EPA rule would “significantly impact” the ability of states to protect their own environmental resources, the letter contends, as well as the health and safety of their residents.

As the letter explains, many scientists and public health groups have echoed Attorney General Grewal’s concerns that the proposed rule effectively blocks EPA from relying on long-standing, peer-reviewed, and important research on environmental and public health priorities. The rule would also block the EPA from considering the results of groundbreaking studies, because such research often involves confidential personal or medical histories or propriety information.

“The scientific community has made clear that such a limitation is not in accordance with best practices,” today’s letter states. “This anti-science approach has stalled in Congress and been rejected by the courts; it has no place at EPA.”

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