Trump administration hollows out EPA science integrity board
- Author: Nancy Warren May 09, 2017,
May 09, 2017, 7:32
Friere, however, said the decision to replace some members of the Board of Scientific Counselors - who were notified of the decision on Friday - was simply meant to broaden the pool of advisors and, he told the New York Times, to "take as inclusive an approach to regulation as possible".
But the move came as a surprise to members of the board, who had been informed both in January, before Barack Obama left office, and then more recently by EPA career staff members, that they would be kept on for another term.
EPA wants to open up the process to the hundreds of applicants that were not considered by the Obama administration.
According to The New York Times, EPA spokesman J.P. Freire suggested that Scott Pruitt is not interested in maintaining the science-only direction of the board.
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"These reforms will strengthen the public's trust of the science the EPA uses to support its regulations", Science, Space and Technology Committee Chair Texas Rep. Lamar Smith said on the House floor March regarding the bill.
Courtney Flint, a professor at Utah State University on the Board of Scientific Counselors, told CNN Monday that the news of her upcoming termination implied an obviously ideological shift at the agency.
Conservative federal legislators have complained that the EPA's Scientific Advisory Board (a 47-member panel that works with the Board of Scientific Counselors) lacks "balance", although the board is independent and composed of relevant experts who can assess underlying science that informs EPA policy.
Pruitt also disagrees with the consensus of climate scientists that man-made carbon emissions are the primary cause of climate change, saying that limits on burning coal costs jobs. "As the Department concludes its review in the weeks ahead, agencies will notice future meetings to ensure that the Department continues to get the benefit of the views of local communities in all decision-making on public land management".
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The Trump administration already has targeted EPA's Office of Research and Development for a $233 million spending cut next fiscal year - about half its annual budget.
Freire added, "We're making a clean break with the last administration's approach". "Perhaps more significant is the signal it sends about the politicization of science, which will likely exacerbate mistrust and cynicism of the federal government".
A flag hangs over an entrance to the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington on April 22, 2017.
One scientist on the board said he had never before seen a person not reappointed to the board during a presidential transition. "I have had the pleasure of serving on the EPA Board of Scientific Counselors, and my appointment was terminated today".
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The Interior Department, which has more than 200 groups created to solicit input, is now reviewing the charter and charge of each board and advisory committee; the evaluation forced the temporary postponement of advisory committee meetings, the department said in an emailed statement.