nsucurrent.com May 23, 2018

Trump administration hollows out EPA science integrity board

09 May 2017, 07:33 | Dan Bryan

Climate Change Disappears From EPA Website

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided not to renew three-year terms for five academics appointed by President Barack Obama to sit on the 18-member BOSC, which reviews research done by EPA scientists.

All of the people dismissed by Pruitt - as many as half of the 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors, according to the Washington Post - were at the end of serving at least one three-year term, although those terms are often renewed.

The panel of experts, who typically serve two consecutive three-year terms, helps guide the agency's research office.

An EPA spokesman told CNBC in a statement that the agency received "hundreds of nominations" to serve on the Board of Scientific Counselors. "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". "Instead, they should participate in the same open competitive process as the rest of the applicant pool". Some in the scientific community say the dismissal of such a large number of scientists from the EPA's Board of Scientific Counselors is further evidence of that.

If this sounds familiar, it's because in March, Republicans in Congress were calling to "reform" another EPA scientific board - the EPA Science Advisory Board.

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. At a February House hearing, he said the Science Advisory Board members are "rubber stamps who approve all the EPA's regulation".

A spokesperson for Pruitt said, "The administrator believes we should have people on this board who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community".

The EPA's actions have been in the spotlight since President Donald Trump took office, with the agency removing information about climate change and potential agency office shutdowns.

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.

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

In his short time as EPA administrator, Pruitt has already taken major steps toward reducing the agency's ability to protect the environment. Our role as an independent, fact-based news organization has never been clearer.

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.

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