EPA Moves to Finalize “Secret Science” Rule

by | Apr 21, 2020

The EPA forged ahead in mid-March with finalizing the so-called “secret science” rule, which will upend how the agency uses science to inform important anti-pollution regulations. Since first announced in 2018, scientists, public health groups, and environmentalists have steadily denounced this effort as a ruse to sever environmental regulations from key scientific findings, notably 1993’s landmark “Six Cities” study proving that tiny particle pollution (PM2.5) , which is created primarily by burning fossil fuels, severely harms human health. The rule changes will also give regulated industries unprecedented power in shaping the agency’s use of science by “allow[ing] stakeholders to reanalyze the data and models and explore the sensitivity of the conclusions to alternative assumptions.” Status: On April 17, EPA extended the public comment period on this rule change to May 18, 2020. On April 7, a team of Harvard public health researchers released data showing that death rates from COVID-19 have been 15% higher in areas with high levels of tiny particulate pollution.

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Amy Westervelt is the editor-in-chief of Drilled News, creator and host of the Drilled podcast, and founder of the Critical Frequency podcast network, named AdWeek's Podcast Network of the Year in 2019. An award-winning print and audio journalist, Amy has contributed to The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, as well as KQED, The California Report, Capital Public Radio, and many other outlets. She is the 2015 winner of the Rachel Carson award for "women greening journalism," and a 2016 winner of an Edward R. Murrow award for her series on the impacts of the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada. In 2019, the Drilled podcast won the Online News Association's "Excellence in Audio Storytelling" award.

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Emily J. Gertz is senior editor of Drilled News. A longtime environmental reporter and editor, her work has appeared in HuffPost, Reveal, Arctic Today, The Guardian, Popular Science, Scientific American, Sierra, and more.