Sunday, May 7, 2017

URGENT -- EPA Review of Regulations

We have only six more days to comment on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implementation of the President's Executive Order 13777. Comment now!


On February 24, 2017, President Trump signed Executive Order 13777, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” which established a federal policy “to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens” on the American people.

Section 3(a) of the EO directs federal agencies to establish a Regulatory Reform Task Force (Task Force). One of the duties of the Task Force is to evaluate existing regulations and “make recommendations to the agency head regarding their repeal, replacement, or modification.” The EO further asks that each Task Force “attempt to identify regulations that:
(i) Eliminate jobs, or inhibit job creation;
(ii) are outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective;
(iii) impose costs that exceed benefits;
(iv) create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with regulatory reform initiatives and policies;
(v) are inconsistent with the requirements of section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriates Act, 2001 (44 U.S.C. 3516 note), or the guidance issued pursuant to that provision in particular those regulations that rely in whole or in part on data, information, or methods that are not publicly available or that are insufficiently transparent to meet the standard of reproducibility; or
(vi) derive from or implement Executive Orders or other Presidential directives that have been subsequently rescinded or substantially modified.”

I wrote to Caryn Muellerleile, of the EPA Office of Policy requesting further information on the task force and how it would conduct its review. Here is my email, followed by her response.


Dear Ms Muellerleile;

Would you please tell me who the members of the EPA regulations review “task force” are, what their qualifications are, and what scientific techniques they will employ to adjudicate the criterion measures on your website.

Thank you,

/s/


Dear Mr. Badalamente,

Thank you for your interest in EPA’s regulatory reform efforts. 

In accordance with Executive Order 13777 on Enforcing the Regulatory Agenda, which is designed to reduce the regulatory burdens agencies place on the American people, EPA has established a Regulatory Reform Officer (RRO) and a Regulatory Reform Task Force. Administrator Pruitt has charged Samantha Dravis, Senior Counsel and Associate Administrator for Policy, to serve as RRO and Ryan Jackson, Chief of Staff, to serve as chairman of the Task Force. Other members of the Task Force include Byron Brown and Brittany Bolen, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Office of Policy Deputy Associate Administrator, respectively.

The Task Force is charged with evaluating existing regulations and making recommendations to the Administrator regarding rules that can be repealed, replaced or modified to make them less burdensome. Their recommendations will be informed by a public participation process that includes state, local and tribal governments, small businesses, consumers, non-governmental organizations and trade associations. At the Administrator’s directive, EPA’s Offices of Air and Radiation, Land and Emergency Management, Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Water, Environmental Information, Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations and Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization are consulting with their specific stakeholders for their input.

You can find more information about EPA’s regulatory reform activities on our website. 

Thank you again for your interest in this important issue.

Sincerely,

Caryn Muellerleile
Office of Policy
US Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-2855

Note that Ms Muellerleile failed to address my question regarding the qualifications of the task force members, nor the scientific techniques they would emply to judge the merits of the reulations. However, U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) wrote to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in April 2017 demanding answers to this and other questions regarding Pruitt's planned review. They pointed out that Pruitt has placed political appointees in the position of adjudicating what is and what is not sound science, and wrote;

"Neither you, nor Associate Administrator for Policy Samantha Dravis, nor Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson, nor Deputy Chief of Staff Byron Brown, nor Deputy Associate Administrator for Policy Brittany Bolen, have any meaningful scientific background. We therefore fail to see how your background will allow for the proper evaluation of the rigorous methodologies and quality of evidence that are the foundations of sound science.”

Sen Sheldon Whitehouse pointing out SDcott Pruitt's ties to the fossil industry during confirmation hearings

Those of you wishing to comment on Pruitt's directive might reiterate this point.

The Schatz/Markey/Whitehouse letter also demanded that Pruitt provide written assurances on the following points:

·         EPA’s Regulatory Reform Task Force will fully engage with public health, consumer protection, and environmental groups, as well as the general public, in order to better understand the scale and scope of the benefits associated with each regulation under consideration.
·         EPA will make public, on its website, the names and affiliations of all participants that provide input to the Task Force.
·         EPA will transparently disclose its calculations of both costs and benefits in considering the merits or any particular regulation.
·         Political appointees will not interfere with routine and non-controversial regulatory actions informed by career EPA scientists acting in the best interest of the public.
·         Going forward, you will justify all decisions you make that ignore the advice of EPA scientists with the body of peer-reviewed scientific literature relied upon in arriving at your decision.
 
These are worth reiterating in your comments.
 
Scott Pruitt is counting on the apathy of Americans as he goes about dismantling the agency he sued multiple times. Disappoint him. Comment, and keep fighting!

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