Word leaked a few weeks ago that the EPA is poised to finalize a rule to limit the types of scientific studies that can be used to create new regulations. The proposal — named “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” — would require public health researchers to release their raw scientific data in order for their work to be considered when the EPA sets regulations. These regulations dictate things like how much pollution companies can release into the air and water.
The rationale for the rule goes like this: these studies are “not transparent,” and that means researchers currently can’t release their raw data because it contains confidential information like personal health data, names and home addresses.
The proposed rule would only allow the use of studies that make all data publicly available for anyone to analyze. Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt first pitched the new rule back in 2018 as a way to make the agency’s decision-making more, “transparent, objective and measurable.”
When the rule was first proposed, the agency received nearly 600,000 comments, the vast majority of them in opposition. One of those came from Dr. Mary Rice, a pulmonary and critical care physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where she treats patients with lung disease. She also studies the effects of air pollution on lung health and is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
On November 14th, Dr. Rice was one of 5 scientists to testify before the House Science Committee on the proposed rule. She spoke on behalf of the American Thoracic Society, a 16,000-member medical professional organization of physicians, researchers, nurses, respiratory therapists and allied health professionals “dedicated to the prevention, detection, treatment, cure and research of respiratory disease and critical illness.”
Dr. Rice was our guest on our recent episode of Trump on Earth.