A federal judge vacated the so-called “secret science” rule that limited EPA’s ability to use public health research to craft policy on Monday. The Biden administration had determined the justification proffered, unsuccessfully, by the Trump administration for its hasty publication of the rule was legally indefensible. The rule, originally conceived by the tobacco industry in the 1990s, would have restricted EPA’s ability to use studies that cannot make their underlying data — like participants’ medical histories — public. Such research includes bedrock epidemiological studies upon which EPA has relied for decades, and the implementation of the rule would have made it dramatically more difficult to enact public health and environmental protections.

EPA spokesperson Lindsay Hamilton said the Biden administration was “pleased” with the ruling, adding, “EPA is committed to making evidence-based decisions and developing policies and programs that are guided by the best science.” (Washington Post $, The Hill, E&E $, Politico Pro $)