“Will EPA sit out scientific integrity rulemaking?” asks Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

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Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility reports: “Despite a White House directive that federal agencies strengthen their procedures for ensuring scientific integrity and transparency, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is apparently planning no changes,” according to an internal EPA memorandum by Administrator Lisa Jackson released January 24 by PEER. PEER contends that as a result, “EPA scientists will continue to lack consistent rules for publishing studies, speaking at scientific conferences or answering questions from the media.”

The EPA memorandum is available here; White House science adviser John Holdren’s memorandum to agency heads on the implementation of the scientific integrity guidelines is here. From a January 24 press release from PEER:

“Far from setting the standard for scientific integrity, EPA daily subjects its scientists to the murky backwaters of arbitrary ad hoc decision-making,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, pointing out that other agencies, especially the Department of Interior, are moving ahead with precedent-setting open science policies.

In a letter sent on January 24, PEER urged Ms. Jackson to consult staff scientists.

EPA also does not have policies on the ability of its scientists to protect against inappropriate alterations of their work, to participate in scientific societies or to freely communicate with outside experts, among other topics contained in the OSTP memo. Nonetheless, Ms. Jackson’s e-mail distinctly implies that she has no plans to promulgate such policies (nor is there any announced schedule of activity to do so) even though her agency is supposed to report its progress back to the White House by mid-April.

“Within EPA management there is a culture of disrespect for its scientists, an upstairs-downstairs mentality where scientific acumen carries little weight,” added Ruch, arguing that EPA should be in dialogue with its scientists and unions right now if it intends to have new rules in place by the spring. “If agencies such as EPA stand pat, the entire Obama scientific integrity initiative may produce little more than pious promises.”

Earlier posts:

On the White House Scientific Integrity guidelines – Part 1: OMB’s Secret ‘Openness’ Policy

White House Ends Climate Change Gag Order: EPA Whistleblowers Now Free to Speak Out

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