Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler told lawmakers Thursday the agency plans to implement a controversial transparency rule that critics say could limit available science.
The proposed rule would force the EPA to use only scientific research and findings from which all underlying data can be reproduced and made public. Opponents argue that would prevent the EPA from using key research that is not widely available because it includes private information, like health studies.
"Good science is science that can be replicated and independently validated; science that holds up to scrutiny," Wheeler said in his opening statement Thursday before the House science, space and technology committee.
"That is why we are moving forward to ensure that the science supporting agency decisions is transparent and available for evaluation by the public and stakeholders."
For months before Thursday's hearing, it was unclear whether the EPA still planned to implement the rule. It was placed on the Trump administration's long-term agenda last fall.
Last month, critics say, EPA staffers could not identify what would be considered allowable research or explain how to handle previously accepted data.
"We don't really have any detail to react to, and so it's a real mystery as to what we might be agreeing to or not agreeing to," Janice Chambers, a science professor at Mississippi State University, told Science magazine.
The Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science draft rule was developed under former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who suggested increased transparency would build more public confidence for the agency's rule making process.
"I cut my teeth on the Right to Know Act," Wheeler told the panel. "I believe that if we put the science out for everyone to see and understand then there will be acceptance of our regulatory decisions."