Daily Trends Now
Daily Trends Now

US agency sacks major scientific review board members

US agency sacks major scientific review board members

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt notified half the 18 members of the Board of Scientific Counselors that their terms had ended and would not be renewed.

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. But with the end of the members' terms, he said the agency wanted a complete vetting of all of those nominated to serve on the board before deciding who serves, rather than simply renewing the appointments of those already on the panel.

Robert Richardson, an ecological economist at Michigan State and member of the Board of Scientific Counselors which reviews research done by EPA scientists, sounded the alarm over the dismissals on Friday, telling his Twitter followers: "Today, I was Trumped".

"We're not going to rubber-stamp the last administration's appointees", Friere told the Washington Post.

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

The EPA statement said Pruitt will continue to consult with the agency's ethics counsel to ensure there is no question of impropriety in how it deals with litigation to which Pruitt had been a party as Oklahoma's attorney general. Ponisseril Somasundaran, a chemist at Columbia University who was dismissed from the board, explained that most members of the council are academics. "Instead, they should participate in the same open competitive process as the rest of the applicant pool".

"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.

"In the broader view, I suppose it is the prerogative of this administration to set the goals of federal agencies and to appoint members to advisory boards", she added. At a February House hearing, he said the Science Advisory Board members are "rubber stamps who approve all the EPA's regulation". "While I have recused myself from making decisions on specific cases, it is my duty and privilege as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to actively engage in rulemaking".

But before that, Davenport warn these "dismissed" academics could be replaced with "representatives from industries whose pollution the agency is supposed to regulate", also mentioning proposed budget cuts and web pages on climate programs that were taken down. Critics of President Donald Trump's EPA, including Democratic politicians and environmental groups, have said the administration's actions so far jeopardize research and actions meant to combat climate change and protect public health. The individuals on these boards are appointed based on scientific expertise not politics.

Members of the BOSC Executive Committee, subcommittees, and workgroups represent a distinguished body of scientists and engineers who are recognized experts in their respective fields. "Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is "reviewing the charter and charge" of more than 200 advisory boards, committees, and other entities both within and outside of his department", the Post wrote.


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