New EPA Power Plant Proposal Relies on Science EPA Wants to Shun

(Bloomberg) -- The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to loosen power-plant regulations relies in part on scientific studies that the agency itself is trying to exclude from rulemaking.

Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in April proposed a regulation that would break with decades of federal practice by limiting the science available to regulators. He called the initiative the “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science.”

The proposal, which is still pending, was designed to make sure that all data from studies used by the agency should be in the public domain. Such a rule could prevent the EPA from consulting many basic studies that link air pollution and premature deaths because they rely on public health data anonymized to protect people’s identities.

But the EPA’s proposed replacement to Obama’s climate-change fighting Clean Power Plan was accompanied by a 300-page analysis that may rely in part on just such studies to estimate health impacts. For example, it cites extended follow-up articles to two landmark studies, the Harvard “Six Cities” research on air pollution and mortality and corroborating work by the American Cancer Society.

Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Center for Science and Democracy, says at least three studies in data tables in the proposal might be unusable if the science rule were in effect.

The EPA documents say “implementing the proposed rule is expected to increase emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and increase the level of emissions of certain pollutants in the atmosphere that adversely affect human health.”

The agency concluded that as many as 1,630 more people may die prematurely from heart and lung disease each year by 2030 if its new proposal goes into effect.

The EPA press office did not respond to an email asking about the transparency rule.

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