Another Last-Minute Poison Pill: Trump Administration Kneecaps EPA’s Use of Sound Science To Protect Public Health

WASHINGTON – With two weeks left in President Trump’s term, his Environmental Protection Agency has once again issued an 11th-hour rule that will hamper the incoming Biden administration’s efforts to protect public health.

The Washington Post reports that the new rule, in the works since the beginning of the Trump administration, restricts the EPA’s use of important scientific studies when considering regulatory action on pollution and toxic chemicals.

EPA chief Andrew Wheeler, in announcing one of his last major anti-science actions, claimed that by restricting the use of studies that do not fully disclose their underlying data, the rule will bring more transparency to the agency’s efforts to regulate drinking water contamination, air pollution and toxic chemicals.

But as The Hill reports, the EPA’s own independent science board has sharply criticized the rule, saying it could block the agency from using the best available studies, which to protect potentially sensitive and confidential information about patients and volunteers often do not make their underlying data public. 

“Here is one more salvo in the Trump administration’s four-year war against science and public health,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Donald Trump and Andrew Wheeler will soon be gone, but the damage they have done will be lasting and a significant challenge for the incoming administration.”

On Dec. 9, the EPA finalized a rule making it harder for the agency to enact clean air standards that protect public health and address the climate crisis. And on Dec. 18, the EPA proposed an interim guidance for incineration and disposal of some of the fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS that would neither destroy nor contain the toxic “forever chemicals” – and would in fact perpetuate the cycle of contamination.

“We have 15 days until President-elect Biden and Michael Regan, his nominee to head the EPA, can begin to reverse the toxic tide of environmental rollbacks of this administration,” Cook said. “Let’s pray Trump and Wheeler don’t have more poison pills to leave behind.”


The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

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