Monday, November 13, 2017

Investigation into EPA scientist edict sought by 10 senators

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt - Saul Loeb-AFP Getty Images

Georgina Gustin reports for Inside Climate News:


A group of Senate Democrats is calling for an expanded investigation into efforts by the Trump Environmental Protection Agency to effectively push independent scientists off key EPA advisory boards and replace them with scientists from the fossil fuel and chemical industries.
In a letter sent to the Government Accountability Office on Thursday, the 10 senators asked the GAO to investigate a new directive, issued by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on Oct. 31, that restricts any scientist who has received EPA funding from serving on the agency's scientific advisory panels.
Pruitt said the move was intended to clear up conflicts of interest and to rid advisory panel members of financial ties to the agency. But scientific groups, academics and advocacy organizations have all pointed out that it will mean the most experienced scientists—whose qualifications earn them government grants in the first place—will no longer be able to serve in these roles. 
"The double-standard is striking: an academic scientist that receives an EPA grant for any purpose cannot provide independent advice on a completely different subject matter on any of EPA's science advisory boards," the senators wrote, "while industry scientists are presumed to have no inherent conflict even if their research is entirely funded by a company with a financial stake in an advisory board's conclusions."
Five days after Pruitt issued the directive, The Washington Post reported that he appointed 66 new members to advisory panels, many of them with ties to industries the agency regulates. Several panel members stepped down.
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