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Disputed US EPA science rule is expunged

Chemical industry supported this Trump regulation

by Cheryl Hogue
May 26, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 20

Photo shows US EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan seated at a desk.
Credit: Eric Vance/US EPA
Michael S. Regan

A controversial Trump administration rule restricting the Environmental Protection Agency’s use of science is officially scrapped.

EPA administrator Michael S. Regan sealed the rule’s fate May 26, signing a final action that removes it from the federal rulebook. “This action ensures that EPA can utilize the best available science and data to support our work to protect the public from pollution,” Regan says in a statement.

The rule, issued Jan. 6, changed how the EPA weighs scientific studies as regulators decide whether to impose restrictions on commercial chemicals or to limit pollution. It also paved new avenues for legal challenges to EPA regulations.

Science organizations, including the American Chemical Society, which publishes C&EN, said the rule could force exclusion of relevant data from the EPA’s decision-making processes. Environmental advocates said it threatened protection of the environment and public health. Meanwhile, industry groups—including the American Chemistry Council, an association of US chemical manufacturers—supported the rule, saying it helped ensure that the EPA relied on the best available science.

This action ensures that EPA can utilize the best available science and data to support our work to protect the public from pollution.
Michael S. Regan, administrator, US Environmental Protection Agency

A federal trial court found that the Trump EPA improperly relied on an obscure federal law as the legal basis for the science rule. The court struck down the rule Feb. 1 at the request of the Biden Justice Department. Regan’s signing of the final action completes the legal process for eliminating the rule.

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden issued an executive order directing EPA to review this rule, among dozens of others.



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