I share Naomi Oreskes’ concern that the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) new transparency rule is a disingenuous effort to discredit scientific findings and that it could prevent solid evidence from shaping regulations (Nature 557, 469; 2018). Other measures could boost transparency.
The EPA should improve the navigability of its website so that its decisions can be tracked and scrutinized. It should also restore its library system and create public reading rooms in all of its 36 offices. And its administrator should reinvigorate existing transparency policies, such as the 2008 Quality Policy and the 2012 Scientific Integrity Policy.
Government and academic scientists have collaborated to develop a weight-of-evidence process to evaluate the available models and data (see https://cfpub.epa.gov/si). The resulting ‘criteria documents’ are comprehensively referenced and include details of the assessment and review procedures, as well as the assumptions, reference values and analytical parameters used. The process meets the requirements of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and other federal statutes that define the EPA’s mission. They are consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act and have been validated through state and federal court cases. Given their proven long-term track record, I see little value in extra administration protocols to address the transparency of decision-making.
Nature 559, 181 (2018)