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Why This Matters: If an advisory board composed mostly of the Trump Administration’s own hand-picked scientists, many of whom were known to be predisposed to favor industry views, can’t stand behind these rules, then they should not go forward. Policy differences are one thing, but rules based on shoddy analysis and that ignore the widely-accepted scientific understanding of the issues is just, well, really dumb and likely motivated by political special interests rather than what is best for the public. The American public, who foots the bill for both the government’s work and ultimately for the disastrous impacts of government incompetence and corruption, deserves better. The only silver lining is that at least the scientists spoke up.
The Problems The Advisors Found With The Rules
Air Toxics Rule: According to the Washington Post, this rule, “which would change the way the EPA calculates the benefits of curbing toxic air pollution, did not elicit a serious challenge from the outside experts.” But they did take issue with the fact that the agency failed to include selenium and chromium among the rule’s toxic air pollutants. And last month a group of former agency scientists criticized the proposed rule, saying “the EPA’s proposal relies on a cost-benefit analysis that is ‘fatally flawed’ and that the agency’s calculations ‘inappropriately fail to account for the fact that reducing mercury pollution provides tens of billions of dollars in health benefits to the American people.'”
WOTUS Rule: This rule defines what water bodies, rivers, streams, and wetlands are covered by the Clean Water Act and thus can be protected by the rule’s prohibition on emitting certain pollutants into them. The Trump administration wanted to severely cut it back the Obama expansion of this list. According to The Times, the Trump scientists stated that the new proposal “‘neglects established science’ by ‘failing to acknowledge watershed systems,’ the scientists said. They found ‘no scientific justification’ for excluding certain bodies of water from protection under the new regulations.”
Clean Car Rule: The Trump scientists also found “significant weaknesses in the scientific analysis of the proposed rule” that would roll back vehicle emission standards that the Obama Administration had set to increase this year. According to The Times, the agency used a flawed economic model that had not been adequately reviewed by federal agencies or in the academic literature, which led to what one expert described as “really improbable” results showing that relaxing Obama-era gas mileage standards would lead to a significantly smaller fleet of vehicles despite the model’s prediction that the vehicles would be cheaper.
Health Data:According to The Washington Post, the panel was highly critical of the administration’s rule to exclude any scientific studies from decision-making if the researchers withhold their raw data, saying that is “inconsistent with the scientific method that requires all credible data be used to understand an issue” and that “[s]uch a change could easily undercut the integrity of environmental laws, as it will allow systematic bias to be introduced with no easy remedy.”
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer This week, the medical journal Lancet published their annual report on health in relation to climate change, subtitling it: “code red for a healthy future.” The report delves beyond the obvious effects of wildfires, hurricanes, and extreme weather events — looking at food security; livelihoods; human physical and mental […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer The EPA announced Monday that it will move toward regulating perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — manmade “forever chemicals” — that don’t naturally break down and can contaminate both air and water. These chemicals, found in various household products, from dental floss to nonstick pans, can also be harmful […]
The editors of over 230 medical journals said in a statement on Monday that climate change is a health issue and that its effects could become “catastrophic” if world leaders don’t do more to address it. The health impacts of climate change include wildfire smoke–which has been linked to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases–and pollutants […]
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