US environmental chief to recuse himself from court cases

May 09, 2017, 07:32
US environmental chief to recuse himself from court cases

The Environmental Protection Agency has reportedly dismissed half the scientists serving on a crucial science review board. It's not until 10 paragraphs into Davenport's story do we find out Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) members serve three-year terms.

Scientists on the board said they were told during the Obama administration that their terms would be renewed, as they normally were for at least a second term.

J.P. Freire, a spokesman for the agency, said the Trump administration is now looking for nominees who better match the goals of the president.

"The administrator believes we should have people on this board who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community".

"We want to ensure fair consideration of all the nominees", he "told" Vox, noting that people who have previously served on the panel are not outright excluded from the process. It was not immediately clear from the news reports how many members were let go.

Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will recuse himself from legal cases he brought against the agency in his earlier job as attorney general of Oklahoma, E&E News reported last week. 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. That has included the 47-member Scientific Advisory Board, which Republican members of Congress have said needs reworking to "provide meaningful and unbiased scientific advice" and increased transparency.

"I was kind of shocked to receive this news", Robert Richardson, a Michigan State University sustainability professor, told the Post. "It also allows more public participation in the EPA's science review process".

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The board's advisers are appointed for three-year terms, which are typically renewed even under a new administration.

A spokesman for the E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt, said he would consider replacing the academic scientists with representatives from industries whose pollution the agency is supposed to regulate, as part of the wide net it plans to cast.

In recent years and months, EPA boards dominated by academic advisers have come under harsh criticism by conservative politicians and policymakers, especially those questioning whether climate change is the result of human activity. While the move has outraged some environmentalists, it seems completely in line with Pruitt's longstanding goal of curtailing the EPA's regulatory power from within.

In a budget proposal obtained by The Washington Post last month, the panel is slated for an 84 percent cut - or $542,000 - from its operating budget.

One scientist on the board said he had never before seen a person not reappointed to the board during a presidential transition.

We've reached out to the EPA to confirm exactly how many science advisors are being removed and will update if and when we hear back.

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