In addition to its goal to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by the end of 2018, the Trump Administration is now slowly dismissing key members from its major scientific review board. According to a spokesman for EPA head Scott Pruitt, the decision is a result of desiring to replace academic scientists with representatives of industries whose pollution the agency is tasked with regulating. He said, “The administrator believes we should have people on this board who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community.”
Mr. Pruitt’s first outing as head of the EPA included a visit to coal mines, where he pledged to restore the industry. This occurred despite members of both of the EPA’s scientific advisory boards advising against such action. A spokesperson for Mr. Pruitt said the agency wanted “to take as inclusive an approach to regulation as possible.”
President Trump also directed Pruitt to “radically remake” the agency. So far, this has included reducing its main scientific branch by 40 percent, as well as revoking major regulations instated during Obama’s presidency to combat climate change and protect water sources.
The agency’s latest decision to dismiss five scientists from the major scientific review board has not gone unnoticed. Some are claiming that the EPA is downgrading its science to elevate business interests. Ken Kimmell, the president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said, “This is completely part of a multifaceted effort to get science out of the way of a deregulation agenda. What seems to be premature removals of members of this Board of Science Counselors when the board has come out in favor of the E.P.A. strengthening its climate science, plus the severe cuts to research and development — you have to see all these things as interconnected.”
In recent weeks, the EPA removed from its website scientific data that explained the causes and effects of climate change. According to J.P. Freire, the agency’s associate administrator for public affairs, this was done to “eliminate confusion by removing outdated language first and making room to discuss how we’re protecting the environment and human health by partnering with states and working within the law.” Mr. Pruitt also publicly questioned the established science of human-caused climate change.
Via New York Times