Pending Snowstorm; No In-Person Activities Sat, Jan. 29. Law Library will be closed. More info

May 19, 2020
Contact: Tom Lalley

Eighteen Attorneys General Call on EPA to Abandon ‘Ill-Advised and Illegal’ Anti-Science Proposal

AGs say the proposal is particularly troubling coming in the midst of the worst public health crisis the nation has faced in over a century.

Washington, D.C. —  A coalition of 18 attorneys general, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James and New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, filed comments sharply criticizing an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking that would modify and expand the agency’s April 2018 so-called “Secret Science” (more accurately, “Anti-Science”) proposed rule. Both proposals would disqualify a broad array of peer-reviewed scientific studies from consideration by the EPA during the development of regulatory standards to protect public health and the environment. The latest proposal goes even further; it invites EPA to reject peer-reviewed health studies whenever EPA relies on “influential scientific information” in its decision-making process (which should be all the time). The AGs called on the EPA to scrap the proposal and instead collaborate with experts — including those on its own Science Advisory Board, the National Academies, and state and local governments — to address issues such as transparency and data quality.
“The Trump EPA’s dismissal of science comes at one of the most critical public health emergencies of our time. Now, more than ever, transparency and the use of best available science in EPA decision-making is essential,” said AG James. “The proposed rule is a thinly-veiled attempt to bury credible science so the Trump administration can put the interests of big business ahead of public health and our environment. My office will consider all legal options should this dangerous rule go into effect.”
“In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump Administration seeks to deal a critical blow to robust, independent scientific research,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “It is not a coincidence that the EPA’s proposed rule makes it easier for the federal government to ignore legitimate health studies in favor of industry-backed propaganda. The Trump Administration's fear of science has led it to strike out once again with this amended proposal.”
The AGs agreed with EPA’s purported goals of strengthening transparency and using the best available science in agency decision-making, but warned that the proposed rule would “unlawfully and arbitrarily exclude or give less weight to much of the science underpinning EPA action to protect human health and the environment” and give the agency “complete discretion to decide what data and models are subject to the rule.” The result would be “important and relevant studies being ignored or under-weighted, to the detriment of the thorough scientific inquiry that is necessary to ensure that scientific and technological information used to support the agency’s regulatory actions are robust and objective.”
The AGs also refuted the EPA’s use of the obscure 1874 Housekeeping Statute, which authorizes certain agency heads to regulate the internal affairs of their departments, to justify its proposal. The AGs pointed out that the statute in no way alleviates the problem — detailed in comments submitted by the AGs in 2018 — that the EPA “lacks statutory authority to promulgate the proposed rule” and that the proposed rule “is plainly not a matter of housekeeping.” Additionally, the AGs stressed that “by its plain language, the federal Housekeeping Statute provides no authority to EPA” because Congress never conferred the authority of the statute to the agency.
The attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C., the cities of Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Oakland, Philadelphia and San Francisco, and King County, Washington joined New York and New Jersey in submitting the comments.



About the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center
The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center (State Impact Center) is a non-partisan Center at the NYU School of Law that is dedicated to helping state attorneys general fight against regulatory rollbacks and advocate for clean energy, climate change, and environmental values and protections. It was launched in August 2017 with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies.
For more information, visit our website