Trump Administration Declines to Renew Environmental Protection Agency's Science Advisor Appointments

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The Trump administration will not reappoint half the expert members of a board that advises the Environmental Protection Agency on the integrity of its science. All of the members being dismissed were at the end of serving at least one three-year term, although these terms are often renewed instead of terminated.

The Board of Scientific Counselors is an 18-member board whose mission is to "evaluate science and engineering research, programs and plans, laboratories, and research-management practices of ORD [EPA's office of research and development] and recommend actions to improve their quality and or strengthen their relevance to EPA's mission".

"We're not going to rubber-stamp the last administration's appointees".

"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", Freire said in a statement. "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". However, Pruitt's chief of staff told the Washington Post that he thinks the fired members' reactions were out of line.

"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. The decision is the latest in a series of moves that could benefit polluters.

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

An EPA spokesperson did not respond to TPM's questions about whether, or how dramatically, Pruitt meant to change the balance of the board to favor industry scientists. "Members of the board say they have reviewed the EPA's scientific research on the public health impact of leaking underground fuel tanks, the toxicity of the chemicals used to clean up oil spills, and the effects of the spread of bark beetles caused by a warming climate", the Times writes. "Perhaps more significant is the signal it sends about the politicization of science, which will likely exacerbate mistrust and cynicism of the federal government".

In his short time as EPA administrator, Pruitt has already taken major steps toward reducing the agency's ability to protect the environment.

A Michigan State University professor was among several advisers cut from a key scientific review panel at the Environmental Protection Agency in the last week as part of an effort to replace appointees from the last administration.

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