Joining Coalition of 14 AGs, Attorney General Becerra Files Strong Opposition to EPA’s Anti-Science Rule

Friday, August 17, 2018
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SACRAMENTO – Joining a coalition of 14 Attorneys General, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today filed his strong opposition to a proposed regulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would restrict EPA’s access to critical scientific data. EPA regularly utilizes scientific studies that rely upon private health data, a common and accepted scientific practice that protects individuals’ sensitive and personal information. For years, climate change deniers and fossil fuel industry lobbyists have fought to ban EPA from considering science that employs this mainstream practice. The Trump Administration is now proposing to take up their cause. If implemented, this anti-science regulation would undercut the Agency’s ability to issue future regulations that protect public health and the environment.

“This is nothing more than a veiled attack on our health and environment. By attempting to discredit decades of accepted science, the Trump Administration takes a page out of the anti-science lobby’s playbook,” said Attorney General Becerra. “If the Administration moves forward with its senseless and twisted proposal, California will take any action necessary to hold it accountable.”

Private health data has been used as underlying support for a variety of public health laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, Toxic Substances Controls Act, and the Clean Air Act. If the proposed rule were to go into effect – which has been opposed by thousands of scientists, academics, and legislators – the EPA would be limited in the studies it could cite as evidence or refer to in its rulemaking process. The EPA's claim that science must always be "reproducible" is also deeply problematic. Although many important scientific studies are "reproducible," the studies that follow a major environmental disaster like an oil spill are often vital in crafting regulations to prevent future disasters. Those vital studies cannot be "reproduced" by scientists and would be excluded from consideration under the Proposed Rule.

In the letter to the EPA, the Attorneys General write that the proposed rule violates:

  • The Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The proposed rule is inconsistent with the mainstream approach to scientific studies involving private health data, and ignores the practical necessities of conducting such studies. The proposed rule's exclusion of essential scientific research is “arbitrary and capricious” and therefore violates the APA. It also violates the APA's requirement that an agency consider and respond to all information presented to it in a rulemaking proceeding.
  • The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Safe Water Drinking Act (SWDA). Both the TSCA and SDWA require that when federal agencies act based on science, they must rely upon the best science available consistent with commonly-accepted scientific practices. The proposed rule would unquestionably exclude that "best science available" from many EPA rulemaking proceedings.
  • The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The proposed rule violates the NEPA because the EPA failed to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement as required by NEPA.

In submitting today’s letter to the EPA, Attorney General Becerra joins the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the letter is available here.

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