EPA and Interior Department Overhaul Scientific Advisory Boards

In an effort to split from the Obama administration, EPA replaces scientists from a central advisory board while the Interior department freezes 200 plus advisory groups.

By | May 9, 2017

WIKIMEDIA, GAGE SKIDMORE 

     

Update (June 22): In an ongoing agency overhaul, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt plans to replace every member of the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) “whose three-year appointments expire in August,” according to E&E News, which acquired an EPA email Monday (June 19). In the email, EPA Office of Research and Development acting head Robert Kavlock says that the board’s upcoming summer and fall subcommittee meetings will be cancelled as a consequence of the house-cleaning, E&E reports.

“It effectively wipes out the BOSC and leaves it free for a complete reappointment,” Deborah Swackhamer, BOSC executive committee chairwoman and University of Minnesota professor emeritus, tells The Washington Post.

Currently, there are five executive committee and 49 subcommittee members remaining on the BOSC. “[W]ith the latest information from EPA, 38 of the 49 remaining subcommittee members will not be renewed at the end of August,” Swackhamer tells The Post.

“To be renewed for a second term is usually anticipated, expected, and the only time you might not serve a second term is if your expertise was no longer needed,” she adds.

According to The Post, similar shifts to the status quo may be on the horizon for other EPA scientific advisory groups, such as the Science Advisory Board (SAB) and the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC).  

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt will replace 12 out of the 18 scientists currently on the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC)—a panel that advises the EPA’s Office of Research and Development—while the Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has frozen more than 200 advisory groups for evaluation.

As The Washington Post reported, these moves mark the beginning of a Republican-led initiative aimed at altering how these agencies assess the science that underlies policy decisions. Both agencies began apprising officials of these changes starting Friday (May 5).

See “Science Policy in 2017

EPA spokesman J.P. Freire told The New York Times that replacements for the advisory board scientists, whose terms were coming to an end, may come from the industries regulated by the EPA. According to the article, critics are touting the dismissal of BOSC scientists as an effort aimed at diminishing the EPA’s oversight.

“No one has been fired or terminated,” Freire told The Washington Post in an email, indicating that new advisors will replace those whose terms have ended. “We’re not going to rubber-stamp the last administration’s appointees. Instead, they should participate in the same open competitive process as the rest of the applicant pool.”

“[W]e’re making a clean break with the last administration’s approach,” Freire added.

The BOSC advises the EPA’s Office of Research and Development by assessing agency research, laboratories, programs, and strategy to ensure scientific quality, as stated on its website.

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Zinke has halted various advisory entities—both inside and outside of the department—while he reviews them. This includes advisory boards to the Bureau of Land Management, among others, the Post reports.

In the midst of these changes come reports of the EPA continuing to remove climate change mentions from its website, following up on the initial removal of the main page on April 28. 

See “EPA Scrubs Climate Change Page from Website

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Comments

Avatar of: bradoflv

bradoflv

Posts: 2

May 9, 2017

This is a fine example of the dangers of poor headline writing. Both the headline to this story and the lead in leave the less educated and less motivated (to actually read the article) with the impression that this is just a normal and routine review within the EPA and other supposedly SCIENCE oriented agencies.

Obviously it is not.

This is part of a wholesale effort by this administration to 'repeal and replace' science from the public administration of rules and regulations governing the safety and wellbeing of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness across all aspects of our existence in this country.

Hyperbolic, much?

I think not.

Avatar of: bradoflv

bradoflv

Posts: 2

May 9, 2017

This is a fine example of the dangers of poor headline writing. Both the headline to this story and the lead-in leave the less educated and less motivated (to actually read the article) with the impression that this is just a normal and routine review within the EPA and other supposedly SCIENCE oriented agencies.

Obviously it is not. 

This is part of a wholesale effort by this administration to 'repeal and replace' science and INDEPENDENT scientists from the public administration of rules and regulations governing the safety and wellbeing of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness across all aspects of our existence in this country.

Hyperbolic, much?   I think not.

 

Avatar of: dmarciani

dmarciani

Posts: 53

May 9, 2017

Form the headline, it seems that the Scientist is becoming the Political Scientist. For their infomation. Galileo Galilei was not Niccolo Machiavelli.

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