Industry flacks to write new EPA rules

Now if I were a journalist, that is the tag line I would use, not the lame byline used in this article. Greater is always good, right!

Greater Role for Nonscientists in E.P.A. Pollution Decisions – New York Times

The Environmental Protection Agency has changed the way it sets standards to control dangerous air pollutants like lead, ozone and tiny particles of soot, enhancing the role of the agency’s political appointees in scientific assessments and postponing the required review by independent scientific experts.

Now let’s see which famous “Industry advocacy group” may be behind this one…

The change, which largely tracks the suggestions of the American Petroleum Institute but also adopts some recommendations of the agency’s independent scientific advisers, was announced yesterday afternoon by the agency’s deputy administrator, Marcus Peacock. Mr. Peacock said it would streamline a cumbersome process and bring it “into the 21st century.”

Ah, the 21st century, where scientists know nothing and it is best for groups that will gain most from a weakening of legislation actually write the rules. This way, there’s no pesky “scientist” using “knowledge” to shape policy, only rules written for the short term gain of a few.

It gets worse

For one thing, agency scientists will no longer produce their own independent review of the latest science to start the process of deciding whether a pollution standard — for lead, say, or ozone — is tough enough to protect public health. Instead, initial reviews will now involve both agency scientists and their political bosses and will produce a synopsis of “policy-relevant” science, agency officials said.

“They are using this idea of streamlined and expedited decision-making as a Trojan horse to infect the most important decisions the administrator makes with politics,” Ms. Patton said.

In addition, she said, the role of the independent panel of scientific advisers — who act as auditors, reviewing the document produced by agency scientists and advising top management — has been diminished. The panel, the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, will now comment on the agency’s proposed actions after the public has been notified of them, giving the scientists essentially the same kind of participation as industry lobbyists and environmental groups.

(Emphasis mine). And they wonder why morale at the EPA is low. There are hordes of good (not great, but good!) scientists at the EPA who spend all their lives working on each of their scientific niches, and to take away any decision making or policy input from them is dehumanizing their work. Wonder why the EPA has a lot of trouble attracting talent.

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