(City Journal) -- Imagine if the head of a federal agency announced a new policy for its scientific research: from now on, the agency would no longer allow its studies to be reviewed and challenged by independent scientists, and its researchers would not share the data on which their conclusions were based. The response from scientists and journalists would be outrage. By refusing peer review from outsiders, the agency would be rejecting a fundamental scientific tradition. By not sharing data with other researchers, it would be violating a standard transparency requirement at leading scientific journals. If a Republican official did such a thing, you’d expect to hear denunciations of this latest offensive in the “Republican war on science.”
That’s the accusation being hurled at Scott Pruitt, the Republican who heads the Environmental Protection Agency. But Pruitt hasn’t done anything to discourage peer review. In fact, he’s done the opposite: he has called for the use of more independent experts to review the EPA’s research and has just announced that the agency would rely only on studies for which data are available to be shared. Yet Democratic officials and liberal journalists have denounced these moves as an “attack on science,” and Democrats have cited them (along with accusations of ethical violations) in their campaign to force Pruitt out of his job.
How could “the party of science,” as Democrats like to call themselves, be opposed to transparency and peer review? Because better scientific oversight would make it tougher for the EPA to justify its costly regulations.
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