16 AGs Join Coalition in Opposition to EPA’s Anti-Science Rule

EPA’s plan would exclude vital public health considerations from future rulemaking

August 17, 2018
Contact: Christopher Gray

Washington, D.C.— New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood and New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal led a coalition of 16 AGs in submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before yesterday’s comment deadline. The AGs are urging the EPA to abandon its proposed rule to limit the use of scientific evidence in the development of new rules.

The EPA released its proposed rule “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” on April 30, 2018 with the stated purpose of improving “transparency” in government rulemaking. In a press release associated with that announcement, then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt championed the rule as an end to the “era of secret science at EPA,” a claim that has been strongly rejected by the scientific community.

“The so-called Science Transparency Rule has nothing to do with science and everything to do with special interests,” said Attorney General Underwood. “Instead of ensuring that the EPA uses the best available science in its decision making, the proposed rule would do the opposite: censor, exclude, and undermine science at the expense of our health and environment. This rule would open the Trump EPA's door even wider for politics and corporate interests to drive decisions – and is nothing more than a cynical, dangerous, and illegal attack on the very foundation of our environmental and public health laws. If the EPA doesn’t abandon this science censorship plan, we’ll see them in court.”

The coalition argues in their letter that the EPA is not legally permitted to adopt the proposed rule given existing federal law, which requires the Agency to consider the best science evidence available. The AGs also argue that EPA’s proposal “fails to meet the most fundamental of legal requirements” for valid rulemaking according to the federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA), noting that the proposed rule is “too vague, conclusory, and conditional” for meaningful public participation.

Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, and the District of Columbia joined New York and New Jersey in submitting the comments. The Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Attorneys of King County (WA), as well as the cities of Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Oakland, Philadelphia, and San Francisco also joined the comments, bringing the coalition to a combined 23 states, counties and cities.


On May 7 then-New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman led a coalition of eight AGs in requesting that the EPA stopped all action on its proposed rule, and asked the Agency to consult the National Academy of Sciences on its implications. On May 30 New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood led a coalition of seven AGs in formally requesting the National Academy of Sciences for a review and comment on the EPA’s proposal.

On July 16 the presidents of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine issued a strongly worded rebuke of EPA’s proposed rule. In a joint letter the presidents noted that EPA is ignoring “the inherent risks involved in data disclosure” and encouraged the EPA to seek “objective, expert guidance on the complexities of the rule and how it would be implemented.”

ABOUT THE STATE ENERGY & ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT CENTER: The State Energy & Environmental 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 advance clean energy, climate change, and environmental values and protections. It was launched in August 2017 with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. For more information, visit http://www.law.nyu.edu/centers/state-impact.