US EPA science advisers question ‘secret science’ rule on data transparency

US EPA science advisers question ‘secret science’ rule on data transparency IN FOCUS NEWS ENVIRONMENT EPA data rule questioned Independent science board will review decisions by the US environment agency to repeal or change climate regulations and rules on the use of non-public data. B Y JEFF T OLLEFSON on a similar bill that Republican lawmakers in and gas operations. That includes a review of the House of Representatives have pushed for the research behind Pruitt’s decision to repeal cience advisers to the US Environmental years. The House passed the latest version of the Clean Power Plan. The plan sought to Protection Agency (EPA) voted on the legislation in 2017, but it died in the Senate. reduce carbon emissions from existing power S31 May to review a series of controver- Scientists and environmentalists have plants and was former president Barack Oba- sial rules that the agency has proposed over decried the EPA’s proposal, noting that many ma’s signature climate-change policy. The the past eight months. These include a plan important epidemiological studies are based advisers also intend to look over a decision that would limit the types of scientific research on public-health data that cannot legally made by the EPA in April to revoke emissions that the EPA could use to justify environmen- be released owing to privacy concerns. As a standards for vehicles manufactured between tal regulations, and proposals to strike down result, critics say, such a rule would prevent 2022 and 2025. limits on greenhouse-gas emissions. the agency from considering some of the best Separate emissions standards set by the EPA administrator Scott Pruitt framed the health research, ultimately making it harder to state of California, and followed by a dozen data rule as part of a push for transparency — create new environmental regulations. other states, would remain in place; California and against ‘secret science’ — when he released Under previous presidents, the EPA has officials have warned it on 24 April. The policy would prevent the typically given the SAB advanced notice of “Any that they will fight EPA from relying on studies that include any regulatory actions, such as the release of a pro- administration any attempt by Pruitt data that have not been made public. posed rule, although that is not required by law. to revoke a waiver can reject our The decision by the EPA Science Advisory This week’s meeting was the first time that the that allows the state advice, but we Board (SAB) to review the rule comes after full panel had considered the transparency rule. to set its own regula- are part of the earlier criticism by some of its members. In The EPA is not required to follow the advice of tions in this regard. record.” a 12 May memorandum, an SAB working its advisory board, but failing to do so could The EPA has yet to group chastised the EPA for not submitting bolster legal challenges against the agency. propose new standards to replace the Clean the proposal to the board for review. The environment agency has yet to finalize Power Plan or the Obama administration’s “The working group is very much in the transparency rule: the deadline for public vehicle-emissions regulations. favour of transparency,” said Alison Cullen, comments, originally scheduled to close on The advisers did what they were supposed an environmental-health researcher at the 30 May, has been extended to 16 August. to do, said board member Steven Hamburg, University of Washington in Seattle, during chief scientist for the Environmental Defense the advisory board’s meeting. But on this EMISSIONS FIGHT Fund, an advocacy group based in New York particular proposal, there is a “very real lack The science-advisory board also voted to City. “The SAB is a congressionally chartered of clarity” in how the rule would be applied, assess the research underlying a series of pro- organization,” he said. “Any administration said Cullen, who chairs the working group. posed regulations to limit greenhouse-gas can reject our advice, but we are part of the The proposed transparency rule is modelled emissions from power plants, vehicles, and oil record.” ■ A TMOSPHERIC SCIENCE Over land, cyclones affecting regions along the western North Pacific slowed by 30%; over Australia and areas in or near the North Hurricanes around the Atlantic, they slowed by about 20%. “That’s a big signal,” says study author James Kossin, a climate scientist at the US National world linger longer Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Cooperative Institute for Meteoro- This means more rain and possibly more damage from storms. logical Satellite Studies in Madison, Wisconsin. Research suggested that atmospheric circula- B Y GIORGIA GUGLIELMI are not sure why this is happening, but if the tion patterns in the tropics might be slowing trend continues, future hurricanes could be as a result of global warming, so Kossin set out luggish hurricanes have become increas- even more disastrous. to see whether hurricanes, which are carried ingly common over the past 70 years, The study, published this week in Nature , along by these wind currents, have also slowed. Saccording to a new study. Storms that lin- is the first to analyse hurricane speeds glob- Because storms are becoming more sluggish, ger over a given area for longer periods, such as ally. It finds that the speed at which tropical there’s more time for rain to fall. Kossin notes Hurricane Harvey, which stalled over eastern cyclones moved across the planet slowed by that a 10% reduction in hurricane speed cor- Texas for almost a week in August 2017, bring about 10% between 1949 and 2016: from more responds to a 10% increase in the amount of more rain and have greater potential to cause than 19 kilometres per hour on average in rainfall over a given area. The effect could be damage than ones that pass quickly. Scientists 1949, to about 17 kilometres per hour in 2016. magnified by a warming climate, because 7 J U N E 2018 | V O L 558 | N A T U R E | 15 © 201 8 Mac m ill an Publi shers Li m it ed, part of Spri nger Nat ur e. A ll ri ghts r eser ved. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Nature Springer Journals

US EPA science advisers question ‘secret science’ rule on data transparency

Nature , Volume 558 (7708) – Jun 1, 2018
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Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2018 by Nature
Subject
Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, multidisciplinary; Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, multidisciplinary; Science, multidisciplinary
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0028-0836
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1476-4687
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10.1038/d41586-018-05319-2
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Abstract

IN FOCUS NEWS ENVIRONMENT EPA data rule questioned Independent science board will review decisions by the US environment agency to repeal or change climate regulations and rules on the use of non-public data. B Y JEFF T OLLEFSON on a similar bill that Republican lawmakers in and gas operations. That includes a review of the House of Representatives have pushed for the research behind Pruitt’s decision to repeal cience advisers to the US Environmental years. The House passed the latest version of the Clean Power Plan. The plan sought to Protection Agency (EPA) voted on the legislation in 2017, but it died in the Senate. reduce carbon emissions from existing power S31 May to review a series of controver- Scientists and environmentalists have plants and was former president Barack Oba- sial rules that the agency has proposed over decried the EPA’s proposal, noting that many ma’s signature climate-change policy. The the past eight months. These include a plan important epidemiological studies are based advisers also intend to look over a decision that would limit the types of scientific research on public-health data that cannot legally made by the EPA in April to revoke emissions that the EPA could use to justify environmen- be released owing to privacy concerns. As a standards for vehicles manufactured between tal regulations, and proposals to strike down result, critics say, such a rule would prevent 2022 and 2025. limits on greenhouse-gas emissions. the agency from considering some of the best Separate emissions standards set by the EPA administrator Scott Pruitt framed the health research, ultimately making it harder to state of California, and followed by a dozen data rule as part of a push for transparency — create new environmental regulations. other states, would remain in place; California and against ‘secret science’ — when he released Under previous presidents, the EPA has officials have warned it on 24 April. The policy would prevent the typically given the SAB advanced notice of “Any that they will fight EPA from relying on studies that include any regulatory actions, such as the release of a pro- administration any attempt by Pruitt data that have not been made public. posed rule, although that is not required by law. to revoke a waiver can reject our The decision by the EPA Science Advisory This week’s meeting was the first time that the that allows the state advice, but we Board (SAB) to review the rule comes after full panel had considered the transparency rule. to set its own regula- are part of the earlier criticism by some of its members. In The EPA is not required to follow the advice of tions in this regard. record.” a 12 May memorandum, an SAB working its advisory board, but failing to do so could The EPA has yet to group chastised the EPA for not submitting bolster legal challenges against the agency. propose new standards to replace the Clean the proposal to the board for review. The environment agency has yet to finalize Power Plan or the Obama administration’s “The working group is very much in the transparency rule: the deadline for public vehicle-emissions regulations. favour of transparency,” said Alison Cullen, comments, originally scheduled to close on The advisers did what they were supposed an environmental-health researcher at the 30 May, has been extended to 16 August. to do, said board member Steven Hamburg, University of Washington in Seattle, during chief scientist for the Environmental Defense the advisory board’s meeting. But on this EMISSIONS FIGHT Fund, an advocacy group based in New York particular proposal, there is a “very real lack The science-advisory board also voted to City. “The SAB is a congressionally chartered of clarity” in how the rule would be applied, assess the research underlying a series of pro- organization,” he said. “Any administration said Cullen, who chairs the working group. posed regulations to limit greenhouse-gas can reject our advice, but we are part of the The proposed transparency rule is modelled emissions from power plants, vehicles, and oil record.” ■ A TMOSPHERIC SCIENCE Over land, cyclones affecting regions along the western North Pacific slowed by 30%; over Australia and areas in or near the North Hurricanes around the Atlantic, they slowed by about 20%. “That’s a big signal,” says study author James Kossin, a climate scientist at the US National world linger longer Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Cooperative Institute for Meteoro- This means more rain and possibly more damage from storms. logical Satellite Studies in Madison, Wisconsin. Research suggested that atmospheric circula- B Y GIORGIA GUGLIELMI are not sure why this is happening, but if the tion patterns in the tropics might be slowing trend continues, future hurricanes could be as a result of global warming, so Kossin set out luggish hurricanes have become increas- even more disastrous. to see whether hurricanes, which are carried ingly common over the past 70 years, The study, published this week in Nature , along by these wind currents, have also slowed. Saccording to a new study. Storms that lin- is the first to analyse hurricane speeds glob- Because storms are becoming more sluggish, ger over a given area for longer periods, such as ally. It finds that the speed at which tropical there’s more time for rain to fall. Kossin notes Hurricane Harvey, which stalled over eastern cyclones moved across the planet slowed by that a 10% reduction in hurricane speed cor- Texas for almost a week in August 2017, bring about 10% between 1949 and 2016: from more responds to a 10% increase in the amount of more rain and have greater potential to cause than 19 kilometres per hour on average in rainfall over a given area. The effect could be damage than ones that pass quickly. Scientists 1949, to about 17 kilometres per hour in 2016. magnified by a warming climate, because 7 J U N E 2018 | V O L 558 | N A T U R E | 15 © 201 8 Mac m ill an Publi shers Li m it ed, part of Spri nger Nat ur e. A ll ri ghts r eser ved.

Journal

NatureSpringer Journals

Published: Jun 1, 2018

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