Should EPA Regulatory Science Be Shrouded in Darkness, or Exposed by Light? By E. Calvin Beisner


In John 3:19, Jesus wisely observed, “people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.” That should make Christians wary of claims to secrecy. Some are justified, but many only serve to hide iniquity.

For decades the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has gotten away with creating regulations that lack sound scientific basis, costing Americans hundreds of billions of dollars without solid evidence that those costs were justified.

It’s done this in two ways.

Sometimes it’s simply thrown out scientific results and regulated to satisfy a political pressure group. That was largely the case when in 1972, contrary to its own scientific findings but under heavy pressure from environmentalists, it banned the use of DDT, the most effective, least expensive, safe pesticide by which to control or eradicate disease-carrying insects like mosquitos and lice.

The U.S. had already largely eliminated malaria by widespread spraying of DDT from the 1940s into the 1960s, so the ban didn’t have immediate, large-scale negative consequences here. But it has made it more difficult to combat the recent spread of other insect-borne diseases like West Nile Virus, Zika, Lyme, and spotted fever, and even malaria is making a comeback.

The greater impact of the DDT ban has been in developing countries. The EPA persuaded other federal agencies to withhold foreign aid from countries that used DDT. Most developing countries complied. The result has been hundreds of millions of cases of malaria every year and tens of millions of malaria-caused deaths over the last 45 years.

At other times the EPA has built new regulations on “secret science”—studies whose authors refuse to grant other scientists access to the data, computer code, and methodology behind them. Such studies are not subject to replication by other scientists. Yet replication is the acid test of scientific research.

“Secret science” has been especially common as the basis for pollution regulation dependent on dose/response relationships and for regulation related to anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

Last month EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt requested public comment on a new rule, “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” (STRS), designed to solve that problem.

STRS provides that “When promulgating significant regulatory actions, the Agency shall ensure that dose response data and models underlying pivotal regulatory science are publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent validation.” It codifies what was intended in the Secret Science Reform Act of 2015, and the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act of 2017 (HONEST Act), both of which passed the House but never came up for vote in the Senate.

The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation—a network of scientists, economists, and religious leaders dedicated to environmental stewardship and economic development for the poor—has issued and is gathering signatures to an open letter supporting the STRS that calls the proposed rule “badly needed to assure American taxpayers that the EPA is truly acting in their best interests.”

Opponents of STRS raise three common, and at first sight credible, objections.

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Source: Christian Post