dglobalnews.com EPA's Pruitt recuses himself from environmental lawsuits
Published: Tue, May 09, 2017
National | By Glenda Ortiz

EPA's Pruitt recuses himself from environmental lawsuits

EPA's Pruitt recuses himself from environmental lawsuits

On Sunday, the New York Times reported that at least five members of the EPA's 18-seat Board of Scientific Counselors, responsible for reviewing the agency science that ultimately drives regulatory decision-making, had been dismissed at the end of their three-year terms.

Richardson says he and the other board members were expecting to serve another term - as their predecessors had.

If this sounds familiar, it's because in March, Republicans in Congress were calling to "reform" another EPA scientific board - the EPA Science Advisory Board.

On Friday, Trump's EPA administrator ousted members of the EPA's Board of Scientific Counselors, which advises on work by agency scientists.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has always been a fierce critic of the agency he now leads, saying its scientists often fail to weigh the cost of implementing new regulations on businesses.

The EPA statement said Pruitt will continue to consult with the agency's ethics counsel to ensure there is no question of impropriety in how it deals with litigation to which Pruitt had been a party as Oklahoma's attorney general.

"We're not going to rubber-stamp the last administration's appointees", EPA spokesman J.P. Freire told the Washington Post, which broke the story.

The decision is the latest in a series of moves that could benefit industries whose pollution is regulated by the agency.

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Those dismissed from the 18-member board told the newspaper that they received an email on Friday telling them that their contracts had expired and would not be removed. "EPA is stressing here that this is supposed to be an open and competitive process; no one was ever supposed to be guaranteed a second term".

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. "These folks were appointed for three-year terms, they're not guaranteed a second three-year term".

By expanding the applicant pool, Freire likely means opening up the advisory board to more members of industry (it's mostly been filled with people from academia).

The move - which has been criticized by government watchdog groups and associations of scientists - is out of the playbook of U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, who represents parts of Central and South Austin and who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Pruitt, who does not believe in the scientific consensus on climate change, sued the EPA 14 times before leading it and took over with the intention of shrinking the agency.

"Science doesn't change with administrations, and good science should be independent of that", said Burke, now a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Freire told the Post that the EPA might consider industry scientific experts for some board positions as long as the appointments do not pose a conflict of interest.

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