By Michael Halpern, Union of Concerned Scientists
In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EPA is rushing through a proposal to transform how science is used in agency decisions and scientific assessments. The EPA is giving the public just 30 days to comment on the proposal and refuses to hold virtual public hearings. We are going to make sure that the EPA gets as much input as possible, whether they want it or not.
The proposal, which faces universal opposition from mainstream scientific organizations, has been plagued by controversy for nearly two years. The EPA formally published the proposal last week, giving the public until April 17, 2020 to comment.
On April 14, UCS will host a virtual public hearing to give people the opportunity to provide oral comments about the EPA proposal. The hearing will follow the format of previous virtual EPA hearings as much as possible, with morning, afternoon, and evening sessions, and will be webcast through the UCS website.
Register to provide a public comment at the hearing at this link.
Anyone who signs up will be given up to five minutes to make their comment at one of the three sessions. If you have a time conflict or are without reliable internet access, you may ask someone else to be your proxy and read your remarks.
We are also encouraging people to provide detailed written comments on the proposal. UCS developed a guide to assist people in writing effective comments.
UCS and multiple other organizations and the California EPA have asked the EPA to extend the comment deadline and hold public hearings. We heard back yesterday that the agency does not plan to do so at this time. Yet there is no statutory deadline the EPA must meet.
Many of the public health scientists and organizations best positioned to provide comment are currently working day and night to stop the pandemic. It is lunacy to expect them to be able to provide comprehensive input in this time frame.
In 2018, the EPA dissolved a scientific review panel focused on particulate matter pollution, making it impossible for the agency’s Clean Air Science Advisory Committee to make informed recommendations on appropriate air pollution standards. So UCS helped reconvene that panel, which developed and submitted a detailed analysis of the best available science on particulate matter.
We don’t like doing EPA’s job. It’s expensive and time consuming (our tip jar, if you are so inclined). But EPA needs this input from scientists and the public, and we’re going to make sure they get it.