The personal medical records underlying public health regulations are now stamped "confidential." If they aren’t opened up, the Trump EPA says it intends to ignore them. But doctors and other medical researchers warn about dangerous consequences for dealing with the impact of climate change.
Andrew Rosenberg of the Union of Concerned Scientists says, “All public health threats are being modified by climate change.” Firestorms, heat waves, droughts, flooding, and sea-level rise all raise dangers of new and different kinds.
If the EPA turns away from medical studies showing their impact, Rosenberg asks, can America’s public health bear the burden?
When the EPA first proposed to ignore confidential medical data, there were 600,000 public comments -- almost all against the idea. But the agency’s new leader, former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, has continued the effort to disregard scientific evidence.
And risks from climate change aren’t the only consideration. As researchers seek to discover if new rules are needed, they’ll have to look at the old rules -- based in part of confidential information. If they have to ignore that, will existing regulations have to be rolled back?