Enviros Discover (And Use) Data Quality Act
The Data Quality Act is a federal statute passed a couple of years ago. It requires the Office of Management and Budget to establish new standards governing the objectivity, utility and integrity of information disseminated by most federal agencies. The agencies have to establish their own information quality guidelines consistent with the OMB government-wide guidelines. OMB has now published the initial government-wide guidelines, and the agencies have published their conforming guidelines. The Act allows any "affected person" to petition an agency to correct information that the person believes does not meet the information quality guidelines.
Many environmental groups immediately denounced the Data Quality Act as an industry plot to prevent agencies from regulating. They attacked the Act despite the facts that (i) it only requires politically neutral quality standards for agency-disseminated information; and (ii) any affected person can enforce those quality standards by filing a correction petition with an agency. Now that the Act and information quality guidelines are in effect, at least some of the Enviros have changed their tune. Several of them have already filed information correction petitions.
For example, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed one Data Quality Act petition with the Army Corps of Engineers and another with the Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition, the "John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute," the Sierra Club and "Heartwood" filed a petition seeking correction of a Forest Service Federal Register publication. The Sierra Club has filed another petition with the Forest Service regarding the Service's proposed rule for National Forest System Land and Resources Management Planning. The Environmental Working Group has announced its intent to file a Data Quality Act petition with the FDA regarding mercury warnings for fish.
Other non-industry groups and individuals have also filed Data Quality Act petitions. For example, several senators filed a petition with EPA regarding the Agency's storm water runoff rules.
Winston takes no position on the merits of these Data Quality Act petitions. Winston is, however, glad that an opportunity to correct agency misinformation is available to anyone affected by that misinformation.