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Interior Embracing Transparency, 'Best Available Science' in Rulemaking

The Interior Department has ordered its bureaus and offices to base its decisions "on the best available science," and to make any scientific data, analyses and methodologies used for a rulemaking available to the public.

Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt said the order, which he signed on Sept. 28, "is intended to ensure that the department bases its decisions on the best available science...Further, it is intended to ensure that the American people have sufficient information about what their federal government is doing to assess where it is coming from and correct the federal government when we err."

The order calls for Interior's bureaus and offices to "utilize and prioritize publicly available, reproducible, peer-reviewed science to the [greatest] extent possible." It also mandates that "any decision based on scientific conclusion that are not supported by publicly available raw data, analysis, or methodology, have not been peer reviewed, or are not readily reproducible should include an explanation of why such science is the best available information."

Such scientific data and literature are to be posted to the regulations.gov website, or any similar successor website, concurrent with publication in the Federal Register.

According to Interior, the order satisfies an executive order (EO) issued by President Trump in March 2017 that called for, among other things, federal agencies to promulgate regulations "through transparent processes that employ the best available peer-reviewed science and economics."

The Environmental Protection Agency cited the same EO last June when it announced it was seeking public input into whether and how it should reconsider the cost-benefit analysis for its regulatory decisions.

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