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Federal agencies’ reliance on high-quality science is critical to ensuring public trust

WASHINGTON (March 8, 2017) – Dr. Nancy Beck, Ph.D., on behalf of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), will provide testimony tomorrow about federal agencies’ use of science in the rulemaking process. Dr. Beck will share examples of where scientific information in the rulemaking process has fallen short and outline proposals that agencies could employ to improve transparency and accountability.

Dr. Beck will testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management at the Hearing on the Agency Use of Science in the Rulemaking Process: Proposals for Improving Transparency and Accountability.

“The business of chemistry is critical to the manufacture of safe, high-quality products and our member companies rely on science to conduct the research necessary to discover new chemistries and identify new applications of existing chemistries. Our industry also relies on science to develop new tools for assessing the potential hazards, exposures and risks of chemical substances. Similarly, ACC member companies expect high-quality, up-to-date science and relevant, reliable assessment processes to underpin regulatory decisions by the federal government,” Dr. Beck, senior director of ACC’s Regulatory and Technical Affairs Department, explains in her testimony.

In 2002, federal agencies were directed, through the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Information Quality Guidelines, to ensure the quality, objectivity, utility and integrity of information which they disseminated to the public. While most agencies have committed to meeting these standards, some agencies’ scientific analyses fall short. This is despite federal guidance on risk assessment and peer review and further guidance, such as: the National Academy of Sciences’(NAS) Review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Draft IRIS Assessment of Formaldehyde, the Keystone Center report, "Improving the Use of Science in Regulatory Decision-Making,” the Bipartisan Policy Center report, "Improving the Use of Science in Regulatory Policy" and ACC’s Principles for Improving Chemical Hazard and Risk Assessments.

“ACC has consistently called upon EPA to improve the design and conduct of its chemical assessments. Improving Agency science should not be as challenging as it has been. Significant government and non-governmental guidance already exists. Yet, EPA has not always followed this guidance,” says Dr. Beck.

Dr. Beck’s testimony explains that solutions to improve agency science include: improving and clarifying scientific definitions, like “best available science” and “weight of the evidence”; strengthening oversight to ensure that existing guidance is followed; improving peer review practices to ensure the panels have the depth and breadth necessary to address scientific concerns; and, changing the incentives for grant funding to ensure that research studies follow the best scientific practices and are designed with regulatory use in mind.

“ACC appreciates the opportunity to provide testimony and thanks Chairman Lankford, Ranking Member Heitkamp and the Members of the Subcommittee for providing a forum for this important discussion. We look forward to working with the Committee to ensure that high quality science is used in regulatory decision-making, with regard to chemical hazards and risks to health and the environment,” says Dr. Beck.

» View Dr. Beck's testimony

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