Rule Helps Industry Weasel out of Regulations, Enviros Say

Speaking of regulations: The Data Quality Act — written by an industry lobbyist and tacked onto a massive appropriations bill in 2000 — has become a tool used by industry to forestall regulation, critics charge. The DQA instructs the federal Office of Management and Budget to ensure that all information disseminated by the feds is reliable, and it allows companies and individuals to challenge info they say is inaccurate. It sounds innocent, but public-safety and enviro groups claim that it places scientific decisions in political hands; any industry, they say, can buy enough friendly scientific studies to muddy the waters and fight off regulation. In the last two years, industry has filed dozens of petitions under the DQA against regulations on everything from the herbicide atrazine to playground wood treated with arsenic. Environmental regulations have come under particularly furious attack. Says Jim J. Tozzi, the industry flack who wrote the rule, “Was it something that did not have hearings? Yes. Is it something that keeps me awake at night? No. … Sometimes you get the monkey, and sometimes the monkey gets you.”