Trump administration hollows out EPA science integrity board


The Environmental Protection Agency dismissed half the scientists who serve on a science review board that plays a crucial role in the work the EPA does, CNN has learned Monday.

News of the changes surfaced this weekend when a member of the EPA's Board of Scientific Counselors tweeted that his contract was not being renewed. Deborah L. Swackhamer said the affected board members' terms expired April 30.

Two specific panels have been named already: The 47-member Science Advisory Board, which evaluates certain regulations and helps direct research done for the agency, and the Board of Scientific Counselors, an 18-member panel that assesses the diligence of that research.

"We're not going to rubber-stamp the last administration's appointees", Friere told the Washington Post. "What seems to be premature removals of members of this Board of Science Counsellors when the board has come out in favour of the EPA strengthening its climate science, plus the severe cuts to research and development - you have to see all these things as interconnected".

EPA wants to open up the process to the hundreds of applicants that were not considered by the Obama administration.

Several media outlets reported on the ouster of Richardson and others on the 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors, including the New York Times and the Washington Post.

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Courtney Flint, a professor of natural resource sociology at Utah State University who had served one term on the board, said in an email that she was also surprised to learn that her term would not be renewed, "particularly since I was told that such a renewal was expected".

The measure would effectively prevent many scientific experts from serving on the oversight board.

The Trump administration may give industries a bigger platform to influence agencies' decisions by reshaping the scientific and expert panels that give advice to the federal government about the dangers of pollution, how to manage public lands and other research areas.

According to The New York Times, EPA spokesman J.P. Freire suggested that Scott Pruitt is considering replacing the ousted scientists with representatives from industries subject to EPA regulations.

But EPA career staffers misspoke, and the Trump administration had no intention of keeping the Obama holdovers.

"By making these moves, the administrator and members of the House can pander to the president's base by looking like they're getting tough on all those pesky 'liberal scientists.' But, all else being equal, nothing fundamentally changes about how the SAB operates". These advisers "were appointed for three-year terms", he told Greenwire. This move by the EPA is inserting politics into science. In his short stint as head of the EPA, he has baselessly rejected that carbon dioxide is a major contributor to climate change and made comments on Fox News that support expanding the use of coal burning in electricity generation.