EPA To Replace Dozens Of Scientists, Potentially Kneecapping Advisory Board

President Donald Trump speaks about the US role in the Paris climate change accord in the Rose Garden, Wednesday, June 1, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
EPA Administrator Scott Scott Pruitt is followed by Steve Bannon at the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
June 21, 2017 1:12 p.m.

The Environmental Protection Agency gave notice to dozens of scientists that they would not receive a second three-year term on an advisory board after their current term expires, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The move offers the new administration’s EPA an opportunity to leave its mark on a key review board by filling it with a slate of its own appointments.

The Post noted that it is standard practice for members of the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC), which reviews research performed by the EPA’s Office of Research and Development, to receive a second three-year term.

In May, half of BOSC’s executive committee members were told their terms would not be renewed — a decision that itself prompted resignations from the board in protest.

The same notice has now been extended to a number of scientists on the board’s various subcommittees.

“[W]ith the latest information from EPA, 38 of the 49 remaining subcommittee members will not be renewed at the end of August,” the current BOSC executive committee chair and professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota, Deborah Swackhamer, told the Post.

“It effectively wipes out the BOSC and leaves it free for a complete reappointment,” she added, referring to the dismissals.

She added in an email to Mic: “This latest action is consistent with the actions and statements from EPA administration that they wish to wipe the slate clean, appoint their own advisors, who will be representative of industry.”

The Post noted that five subcommittee meetings scheduled for late summer and fall were also cancelled, as a result of lack of membership.

In May, after the dismissal of half of the BOSC executive committee, EPA spokesperson J.P. Freire 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.”

Swackhamer later testified that Freire’s statement “may lead to the perception that science is being politicized and marginalized within EPA.”

A call for BOSC applicants posted by the EPA’s Office of Science Policy in May specifies who the EPA wants to replace the ousted board members: “EPA will consider nominees from industry, business, public and private research institutes or organizations, academia, government (federal, state, local, and tribal) and non-government organizations, and other relevant interest areas.”

It later notes that criteria under consideration will include “background and experiences that would contribute to the diversity of viewpoints on the Executive Committee or Subcommittee, e.g., workforce sector, geographical location, social, cultural, and educational backgrounds, and professional affiliations.”

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