by Justin Welsh
As we know, the Trump administration is pulling back from environmental issues and as of Tuesday the 23rd the Environmental Protection Agency announced new regulation that will restrict certain scientific studies. The E.P.A. will demand that data, pertaining to air and water regulations, collected by scientists would now have to be publicly available, even from the past. This regulation interferes with scientific studies because their work depends on confidentiality with patient’s public health records.
Scott Pruitt is leading the way on this proposal and claims “the science that we use is going to be transparent, it’s going to be reproducible.” This will limit the E.P.A.’s ability to regulate carbon emissions, air pollution and pesticides. If the policy is enacted it would be hard for a future administration to reserve the decision. The opposing side has vowed to challenge this in court and an environmental law professor from Harvard believes Scott Pruitt would be acting “arbitrary and capricious”.
Supporters of the plan are chemical and fossil-fuel industries and climate change denialists. Chemical and fossil-fuels directly harm humans and lead to premature deaths so they both fall in the category of public health. Sadly, these industries will reap the most benefit if this goes through and the cause the most harm.
I think this new regulation is an easy way for the Trump administration to take a hard stance on being against environmental regulations without directly saying that. To the average American, they may think this is a good idea because they believe Trump and Pruitt when they say they want science pertaining to the environment to be more transparent. But, as Justin pointed out, this could be detrimental to scientific studies that operate on the assumption of anonymity, which would then restrict the new regulations that could be formed based on the data produced by these studies. I think Trump’s administration understood the potential harm this regulation could have on scientific studies and decided to frame it as a transparency issue. I do wonder though how much it would help Trump because the science behind people who deny climate change would also have to be completely transparent. I am interested to see how the courts handle this because I’m not sure that the strategy of saying Pruitt is acting “arbitrarily and capriciously” would be enough to strike it down.
Bouncing off of Catherine’s statement, I believe the Trump Administration knew that this regulation would take power away from the EPA and they framed it so the public would think otherwise. Making scientific studies could violate public health records so I am curious if this could potentially be a privacy issue. This is just the beginning of the drastic changes that are going to be put into place by President Trump. Once again politics are being placed over our environment and the public’s health. Our president is limiting the power of an agency working solely on the behalf of our environment and public welfare.
As far as the future for the EPA I am a little scared for their future, because of recent detrimental changes that were issued by Trump and his administration. He has made it quite clear that environmental policy is the least of his priorities and doesn’t show up on his radar whatsoever. Now that science is taken out of the picture, achieving environmental friendliness is going to be a great challenge.
The EPA is going to take a substantial lost in support and funding due to the fact that Trump takes an anti environmental stance on many situations. Even if the scientific research is disrupted, this may cause a recession of production in data. A supportive group like chemical and fossil fuel industries are going to be hard to compete against, because of their connections with certain politics and have deep roots in the country’s free market complex. In order for the environmental agencies to be flexible and gain more research is a mandate that would create local funding for scientists and other interest groups that support research as well. Scott Pruitt would have to be accountable for this funding due to the fact that he is apart of the EPA and apart of the Trump administration.