“RALEIGH — A new rule being considered by the federal Environmental Protection Agency would ‘censor science,’ N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein said Friday, after joining a critical letter to the Trump administration.

The proposed EPA rule ‘would severely limit the scientific evidence that EPA can consider when adopting rules and standards to protect human health and the environment,’ the letter says.

Stein signed it along with the attorneys general of 14 other states and the District of Columbia, plus others. They sent it to Andrew Wheeler, the former coal lobbyist who is now in charge of the EPA after President Donald Trump’s previous choice to lead the environmental agency, Scott Pruitt, resigned in June while facing numerous scandals and ethics complaints.

Stein, a Democrat, said the new rule would ban the EPA from being able to use any scientific studies whose underlying data isn’t entirely available to the public, even if it’s peer-reviewed. In a statement posted online Friday, his office said this rule would force the EPA ‘to ignore many key health studies, since legally-required confidentiality protections prevent making those studies’ data public.’

And without the ability to consider scientific studies into human health, Stein and his allies fear, the EPA won’t be able to properly do its job.

‘Prioritizing strong science should be a no-brainer for the EPA,’ Stein said Friday in the release. “This rule is silly, but its impacts could be serious.”

The 33-page letter Stein and the others sent Wheeler concludes by saying this is Wheeler’s chance to distinguish himself from Pruitt. They also threatened a possible lawsuit if he does end up approving the rule.

‘We urge EPA to jettison this tainted vestige of the prior leadership and restore public confidence in the Agency’s commitment to its core mission, and we stand ready to pursue legal remedies should EPA persist in this misguided effort,’ the letter said.

Stein, who became the attorney general in 2017, has been criticized by Republican politicians in North Carolina for joining lawsuits or taking other actions they see as having possible political motivations.

About six months into his tenure, the Republican-led General Assembly slashed his office’s budget by $10 million. The News & Observer reported that the cuts forced Stein to cut 45 jobs in his office and that N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger defended the cuts by criticizing Stein’s work.

‘The attorney general’s job is to represent his client, and his client is the state of North Carolina, and in many respects, it’s the state of North Carolina as represented by the elected representatives of the state,’ Berger said at the time. ‘There have been instances where the attorney general seems to believe that that’s not his job, that his job is to do whatever he thinks is appropriate.’

Stein has also previously attempted to stop the Trump administration’s plans to open up the East Coast to offshore drilling, to roll back parts of the Affordable Care Act and to take various immigration actions, according to past reports from The N&O.”

Read the full article by Will Doran