Trump administration hollows out EPA science integrity board

The Environmental Protection Agency forced out half the members of a key scientific advisory board over the May 7 weekend - and their possible replacements include representatives of polluting industries the agency regulates. But with the end of the members' terms, he said the agency wanted a complete vetting of all of those nominated to serve on the board before deciding who serves, rather than simply renewing the appointments of those already on the panel.

Swackhamer, chairwoman of the Board of Scientific Counselors, confirmed Monday that nine of the 18 outside experts on her panel will not serve a second three-year term.

"A spokesperson for EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said the administrator is considering replacing the five scientists with representatives of industries whose pollution the EPA polices".

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

The spokesman told The New York Times "The administrator believes we should have people on this board who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community".

The Trump administration also has called for deep cuts at the EPA, reducing its overall budget by almost a third, at the same time the administration has moved to reverse or slow some of the agency's regulatory decisions. Burke, a political appointee under President Barack Obama, said he was "unceremoniously removed" from the chairmanship of an environmental health board at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the George W. Bush administration.

EPA wants to open up the process to the hundreds of applicants that were not considered by the Obama administration.

Freire added, "We're making a clean break with the last administration's approach". "What seems to be premature removals of members of this Board of Science Counsellors when the board has come out in favour of the EPA strengthening its climate science, plus the severe cuts to research and development - you have to see all these things as interconnected".

It is primarily made up of academic scientists and other experts who review EPA's research to ensure that the regulations the agency undertakes have a sound scientific basis. "These folks were appointed for three-year terms, they're not guaranteed a second three-year term".

Gina McCarthy, former EPA administrator, reacts to the EPA under Donald Trump removing the climate change section from its web site, and talks about the value of environmental protections to "normal human beings".

Conservatives have complained about EPA's approach to science, including the input it receives from outside scientific bodies, for years.

An EPA spokesperson did not respond to TPM's questions about whether, or how dramatically, Pruitt meant to change the balance of the board to favor industry scientists.

"EPA has always been on a path of regulatory overreach, and the committee will use the tools necessary to put EPA back on track", Smith said at the time.