NCC Submits Scientific Integrity Comments
As a stakeholder in the National Ambient Air Quality Standards Regulatory Review and Rulemaking Coalition, the NCC submitted comments to the the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to help it improve the effectiveness of scientific integrity policies at federal agencies.
NAAQS Regulatory Review and Rulemaking Coalition
July 28, 2021
COMMENTS OF THE NAAQS REGULATORY REVIEW & RULEMAKING (NR3) COALITION ON THE WHITE HOUR OFFICE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY’S REQUEST FOR INFORMATION TO IMPROVE FEDERAL SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY POLICIES
86 FED. REG. 34064 (JUNE 28, 2021)
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is requesting information to help it improve the effectiveness of scientific integrity policies at federal agencies. 86 Fed. Reg. 34064 (June 28, 2021). The NAAQS Regulatory Review and Rulemaking (NR3) Coalition offers the following recommendations in response to that request.
By way of background, the NR3 Coalition advocates on behalf of its members in proceedings of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concerning National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and NAAQS implementation under the Clean Air Act (CAA), and in related matters. Companies represented by members of the NR3 Coalition are committed to compliance with requirements of the CAA and other environmental statutes, while continuing to facilitate economic growth in the United States. The NR3 notes that air quality improved significantly between 1970 and 2020, while both the U.S. gross domestic product and population grew significantly.
The NR3 Coalition supports wholeheartedly the Biden/Harris Administration’s goal of basing policy on “evidence-based decisions guided by the best available science and data.” Further, the Coalition agrees that, as set forth in the 2010 OSTP Memorandum, “facilitat[ion of] the free flow of scientific and technological information, consistent with privacy and classification standards” is a foundation of scientific integrity in government.
The NR3 Coalition recognizes that transparency has long been a means of promoting the scientific integrity of federal actions. President Obama noted in an Executive Branch-wide memorandum issued on the second day of his presidency, “Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing.” Shortly thereafter, then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson issued her own memorandum to EPA employees stating, “The American people will not trust us to protect their health or their environment if they do not trust us to be transparent and inclusive in our decision-making.” The NR3 Coalition encourages the OSTP to reiterate the importance of transparency concerning the scientific basis for federal actions.
How can transparency be improved? Transparency requires releasing scientific information considered in making regulatory decisions, where practicable. It further requires ensuring that information underlying studies cited as the basis for significant federal actions be made publicly available to the greatest extent possible, recognizing that certain private, sensitive or confidential information must be protected. The information made public should include both data and information on methodologies used.
OSTP recognizes, “[P]erceived shortfalls in scientific integrity affect public trust in science.” We note that the scientific community is confronting a “replicability crisis” across research fields. Making information on data and methodologies publicly available will increase replicability and verification in the scientific process, thereby allowing the testing of critical methodological assumptions and the mitigation of potential biases in key studies on which regulatory decisions will be based. Further, this approach provides an opportunity to explore “scientific disagreements about research and conclusions,” and allows the public to play a more meaningfully role in processes that establish policy. As a result, public confidence is regulatory decisions can be increased. In addition, regulatory policies and outcomes can be improved by targeting resources to where they can achieve the greatest benefits.
We hope that this information is helpful and look forward to continuing to follow the OSTP’s work on this issue. If you have questions about these comments, please contact Joe Stanko (firstname.lastname@example.org or 202/955-1529) or Cindy Langworthy (email@example.com or 202/955-1525).
Memorandum on Transparency in EPA’s Operations from EPA Adm’r. Lisa Jackson to All EPA Employees 1 (Apr. 23, 2009).
86 Fed. Reg. at 35066.
See Baker, Monya, 1,500 Scientists Lift the Lid on Reproducibility: Survey Sheds Light on the ‘Crisis’ Rocking Research, NATURE (July 28, 2016).
86 Fed. Reg. 34066.