CEI leads coalition of 20 groups in comment on EPA’s draft Scientific Integrity Policy

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The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) led a coalition of 20 groups in a comment on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) draft “Scientific Integrity Policy.”

The way that the EPA utilizes science is critical in the development of its regulations that impact the lives of all Americans. Further, if the EPA uses and disseminates science that is flawed, it can entrench costly and harmful mistakes not only within the agency, but also across the government and in society.  Therefore, getting the science right is critical and why commenting on the draft policy was so important. 

The groups told the EPA that the policy had numerous flaws that would not promote scientific integrity but undermine it. The policy even fails to properly define basic terms such as “scientist.” “EPA’s expansive definition of scientist suggests that EPA is intentionally trying to institutionalize partisan political biases rather than protect objective science from political interference.” Groups also expressed concerns that the draft policy takes issues that are inherently policy and value-laden, such as benefit-cost analysis, and treats them as science. The EPA appears to be going as far as to insulate the policy judgements of career staff regarding economic analysis from Office of Management and Budget regulatory reviews and from any public comments that are inconsistent with the views of career staff.    

The groups write:

General confusion between objective science and subjective policy pervades the EPA’s update to its scientific integrity policy. If the EPA aims to rebuild trust in its commitment to science-backed policy, it must remedy the deficiencies outlined in this comment. The blurring of science and policy, as well as the blatant inconsistencies between EPA rhetoric and EPA actions, creates the appearance that partisan political considerations rather than scientific impartiality motivate this update. While some provisions of the draft SI policy plausibly aim to shield career analysts from political pressure, others seem intended to empower an unaccountable bureaucratic elite to sabotage administration initiatives on ideological grounds.

All told, the draft SI policy undermines credibility in the EPA’s espoused ideals of scientific integrity. Before attempting to claim the scientific integrity high ground, EPA should remedy the glaring shortcomings in its draft SI policy, and furthermore aim to practice what the agency preaches.

The comments were submitted by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Energy & Environment Legal Institute, Domestic Energy Producers Alliance, Rio Grande Foundation, Caesar Rodney Institute, The Heartland Institute, Heartland Impact, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), Frontiers of Freedom, Science and Environmental Policy Project, American Commitment, The Committee to Unleash Prosperity, Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, Americans for Prosperity, Independent Women’s Forum’s Center for Energy and Conservation, Scientific Integrity Institute, Eagle Forum, Institute for Energy Research, American Stewards of Liberty, and the Roughrider Policy Center.

Read the full comment on CEI.org.