Why Pruitt’s Decision to End EPA “Secret Science” Is So Important

This week EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt banned the use of “secret science” in EPA regulatory decision making. The Washington Post immediately cried foul, of course, by arguing that this would mean that important evidence would be ignored. I argue, on the contrary, that it is very important that only evidence that is confirmed by the scientific method should ever be used. One of the requirements of the method is that the evidence be reproducible by others who were not the authors of the evidence. If it cannot be reproduced, the scientific method is of little use because it cannot be applied. And if not confirmed by the scientific method, the evidence is not science.

Administrator Pruitt has now banned one of many types of evidence that is not in accord with the scientific method. What the supporters of the use of “secret science” are doing is asking others to trust the authors of the evidence that will be ignored under Pruitt’s decision. But what if those producing the “evidence” are cheating or have made a mistake? EPA’s regulations must be based on the best possible scientific evidence. Allowing the possibility that the producers have deliberately or accidentally depended on “secret science” is simply unacceptable.

This Is Not First Time that EPA Has Regulated but Ignored the Scientific Method

The history of EPA regulation suggests that the problem has not been too little regulation but rather too much. For example, the early prohibition on the use of DDT ignored all of the scientific evidence and was a disaster because it indirectly led to the death of many millions of people from malaria in other countries.

EPA’s attempt to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide would also be a disaster if the Trump Administration allows the Obama regulations to be implemented since CO2 is not a pollutant, does not have a significant effect on global temperatures, and would have had huge adverse effects on the economy, on plants, and on poor people for no purpose. And EPA’s climate regulations may still be put into effect if the EPA CO2 Endangerment Finding is not repealed. EPA did little more than copy out parts of the United Nations’ climate reports and did not carefully analyze what the UN had done.

Unfortunately, some important evidence with regard to the basic climate alarmist hypothesis was used by the Obama EPA and has been shown to be inconsistent with the scientific method. As a result of climate alarmism, the world is spending about $1.5 trillion dollars per year on the basis of faulty scientific evidence.

The immediate issue that gave rise to the “secret science” issue is the regulation of fine particulates, since EPA was unable or unwilling to release the key data on which fine particulates were regulated.

By ending the use of “secret science,” Pruitt is taking a major step towards making Agency science conform to the scientific method, the basis of all science. There is much more to do, but this is a good first step. EPA needs to be forced to use only scientific evidence consistent with the scientific method in rule making.

I hope that EPA will quickly proceed with further requirements that will make sure that evidence used in rule making is fully in accordance with the scientific method. If applied to the climate issue, there is no doubt that would mean the end of the Obama EPA’s attempt to implement alarmism in the US and hopefully the EPA CO2 Endangerment Finding.

via Carlin Economics and Science


April 27, 2018 at 02:10PM

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