Court Strikes Down Trump Administration’s Censored Science Rule
(Great Falls, MT – February 1, 2021) A federal district court has struck down the Trump administration’s Censored Science Rule in a lawsuit filed by EDF, the Montana Environmental Information Center, and Citizens for Clean Energy.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Montana ruled last week that Trump EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s attempt to make the Censored Science Rule effective immediately was illegal. In accordance with that decision, the Biden administration filed a motion for vacatur and remand of the rule. Today, the same court issued an order for vacatur – overturning the rule completely.
“Today’s decision is great news for EPA’s ability to use rigorous, lifesaving science to protect all Americans from dangerous pollution and toxic chemicals,” said EDF senior attorney Ben Levitan. “The Trump administration’s Censored Science Rule was a flagrantly unlawful attempt to restrict EPA from using important scientific studies when creating safeguards against health and environmental harms. We’re glad the court recognized that and put a stop to it.”
“We are thankful that the Biden Administration has decided to prioritize science instead of demonize it,” said Anne Hedges, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs for the Montana Environmental Information Center. “EPA’s quick action on this rule will make it easier for it to use science to pursue President Biden’s agenda to protect public health and address the climate crisis.”
Trump EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler rushed the Censored Science rule to the finish line just days before leaving office. The rule would have undermined the agency’s ability to protect public health and the environment by fundamentally transforming the ways in which EPA may consider scientific evidence. It would have restricted EPA’s ability to use rigorous, peer-reviewed medical research for which underlying data are not publicly available – even when legal and ethical rules, like medical privacy laws, would have prohibited making that data public.
Wheeler also tried to make the Censored Science Rule effective immediately upon its publication in the Federal Register. However, the law clearly requires that substantive rules have an effective date of “not less than 30 days” after publication. EDF, the Montana Environmental Information Center, and Citizens for Clean Energy filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana challenging Wheeler’s undue haste.
The court issued an order requiring the legally mandated effective date for the Censored Science Rule after the groups filed that lawsuit. The court also found that the Trump EPA’s legal basis for the Censored Science rule was improper. In accordance with the court’s ruling, the Biden administration requested that the rule be vacated, and today’s decision puts an end to the Censored Science Rule.
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