Trump administration hollows out EPA science integrity board

Trump administration hollows out EPA science integrity board

The latest signal of this movement is the dismissal of at least five members of a major scientific review board, rumored to be replaced with industry representatives.

Richardson, who tweeted on Saturday, "Today, I was Trumped", said that he was at the end of an initial three-year term on the board, but that board members traditionally have served two such stints.

Board of Scientific Counselors Chairwoman Deborah Swackhamer said today that nine of the 18 outside experts on her panel saw their three-year terms expire April 30.

Joe Arvai, who sits on the 47-member Scientific Advisory Board at the EPA and directs the University of Michigan's Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, has noted his board already includes industry scientists.

The move could significantly change the makeup of the 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors, which advises EPA's key scientific arm on whether the research it does has sufficient rigor and integrity.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has always been a fierce critic of the agency he now leads, saying its scientists often fail to weigh the cost of implementing new regulations on businesses.

In an emailed statement the EPA said, "EPA received hundreds of nominations to serve on the board, and we want to ensure fair consideration of all the nominees - including those nominated who may have previously served on the panel - and carry out a competitive nomination process".

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Courtney Flint, a professor of natural resource sociology at Utah State University who has served on the board since 2014, said she was surprised by the dismissal.

"We're not going to rubber-stamp the last administration's appointees", Freire told the Washington Post. "These folks were appointed for three-year terms, they're not guaranteed a second three-year term".

Conservatives have complained about EPA's approach to science, including the input it receives from outside scientific bodies, for years.

Pruitt, who does not believe in the scientific consensus on climate change, sued the EPA 14 times before leading it and took over with the intention of shrinking the agency.

Pruitt has been attacked by critics for his closeness to the energy industry, raising concerns from environmentalists that he will move to replace the board members with more individuals from the energy sector.

"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. Dropping experts who could challenge the scientific basis for his decisions might sound depressing, but it's wholly consistent with everything else we've seen so far.

The Board of Scientific Counselors was established in 1996 with a mission of providing advice and recommendations on science and engineering practices and research done by the EPA's labs and scientists.

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