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Regulation

Proposed U.S. EPA science overhaul debated at Senate hearing

Scientific and health-based organizations and industry groups continue to disagree

by Jeff Johnson
October 5, 2018

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Credit: Shutterstock/C&EN

With little show of bipartisan agreement at an Oct. 3 hearing, the Senate Environment & Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management & Regulatory Oversight addressed how science should be used to craft regulations.

Specifically, the subcommittee examined an EPA proposal and Republican-backed legislation (H.R. 1430, S. 1794) that would overhaul the use of agency science that supports environmental regulations.

Scientific and health-based organizations have opposed the changes, citing concerns that efforts to make background data more transparent will limit studies that can be used to shape regulations. Releasing raw data from health studies, for example, could violate patient privacy.

Industry groups and their allies in science and economics have supported releasing others’ background data but have balked at opening industries’ own confidential studies to public scrutiny if used by EPA.

At the hearing’s conclusion, it appeared the two sides were as far apart as ever. And although EPA science and agency regulations drove the discussion and were strongly attacked by every Republican senator at the hearing, not one of the expert panel members had experience in the agency or in crafting or writing science-based environmental regulations.

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