by Justin Pidot, Associate Professor, University of Denver Sturm College of Law*
Last week, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced plans to adopt a new rule that would severely limit the types of information that EPA may consider in designing rules to protect public health and the environment. If this proposal becomes final, it will require the agency to turn a blind eye to many scientific studies and other evidence of the effects of pollution. The rule is widely opposed by the scientific community. It may well be unlawful because it would prevent EPA from considering the best available science. It is also part of a broader, surreptitious, and profoundly misguided effort to undermine federal law by controlling information.
The current attack on information is best understood as a new front in the longstanding Republican war on our nation’s landmark environmental and public health laws. When Congress enacted those laws in the 1960s and 1970s, they enjoyed broad support among the American public and political leaders from both parties. A significant majority of the public—almost 60% of respondents a 2018 Gallup Poll—continues to prioritize environmental protection over unconstrained economic growth.