Published: Tue, May 09, 2017
National | By Traci Kelley

EPA dismisses five scientists from major review board

EPA dismisses five scientists from major review board

EPA spokesman J.P. Freire said the agency's new leadership wants to consider a wider array of applicants, potentially including those who may work for chemical and fossil fuel companies. The agency informed the outside academics on Friday that their terms would not be renewed.

"We are going to look at all applicants that come in, because this is an open and competitive process", Freire said. "This approach is what was always intended for the Board and we're making a clear break with the last administration's approach".

One, Robert Richardson, an environmental economist at Michigan State University, took to Twitter to voice his disagreement with the decision.

"I was kind of shocked to receive this news", Richardson told the Washington Post on Sunday regarding his dismissal from the board.

She added, "The EPA is treating this scientific advisory board like its members are political appointees when these committees are not political positions". These advisers "were appointed for three-year terms", he told Greenwire.

Scott Pruitt, who's made no secret of his opposition to the agency he now leads and its environmental mission, apparently has no use for these academicians' guidance. "It seems unprofessional to me".

The agency's administrator, Scott Pruitt, has axed nine of the 18 members on the Board of Scientific Counselors, which upholds the standards for some the EPA's most significant research. The administration has been meeting with academics to talk about the matter and putting thought into which areas of investigation warrant attention from the agency's scientific advisers.

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Freire said there was no specific plan to seek out more industry appointees for the Board of Scientific Counselors.

According to the Washington Post, an overhaul of scientific boards is not unique to the EPA this week.

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

The EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act, which Smith co-sponsored and which passed the House in late March, bars anyone who has an ongoing EPA research grant from serving on the Science Advisory Board, another board that helps oversee work at the EPA, and prohibits board members from applying for grants for three years after they step down from the panel.

Two specific panels have been named already: The 47-member Science Advisory Board, which evaluates certain regulations and helps direct research done for the agency, and the Board of Scientific Counselors, an 18-member panel that assesses the diligence of that research.

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.

The reasoning behind the budget cut, said the document, reflects "an anticipated lower number of peer reviews". Some of you have even followed through with subscriptions, which is especially gratifying.

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