(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) submitted comments this week in opposition to two of EPA's proposed regulatory changes. The first is an advanced notice of a proposed rulemaking, Increasing Consistency and Transparency in Considering Costs and Benefits in the Rulemaking Process and the second is a proposed rule, Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science. Both have the potential to weaken the Clean Air Act (CAA) and Clean Water Act (CWA) programs and other environmental statutes needed to meet the goals of the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint.
"These proposed rules are yet another example of EPA efforts to roll back protection of human health and the environment," said CBF President William C. Baker.
"Instead of providing transparency, these rules lay the foundation for increasing pollution both here in the Chesapeake Bay region and around the country."
One concern CBF and other stakeholders have for the Cost and Benefits proposal is that EPA will put forth a rule that narrows or limits the consideration of ancillary benefits in its rulemaking processes. For example, in looking at the costs and benefits from reducing pollution from coal-fired power plants, it is important to consider both the human health benefits as well as the benefits of reducing pollution to local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay.
CBF strongly opposes this limitation as it would result in inadequate assessments of the real value of regulatory actions, would be a negative policy change for EPA generally, and specifically could make implementing the Blueprint here in the Chesapeake Bay more difficult.
The Transparency in Regulatory Science rule would limit the use of human health studies where the patients' identities are not public. CBF has serious concerns that the Agency's proposal that would result in the release of confidential information of participants in scientific studies or preclude the use of studies when that information is not released.
CBF supports transparency in the science used to promulgate regulations and believes that the framework already in place provides sufficient safeguards to ensure that the scientific information relied upon by EPA is peer-reviewed and available to the public.
There is also a proposed exemption clause that allows the Administrator to determine—separately from the requirements of the proposed rule—when he/she can consider science that doesn't meet the parameters of the proposed rule. Should this proposed rule be finalized, it will result in a loophole that allows the agency to consider what it has called "secret science" selectively.
The restoration of the Chesapeake Bay is dependent on the implementation of numerous federal CAA and CWA programs that are based upon the best available science. A narrowing of the use of science in the promulgation of rules, under the guise of transparency, threatens the implementation of those programs, and therefore threatens the health of the Chesapeake Bay.