EPA head pledges to protect climate scientists

EPA head pledges to protect climate scientists
© Greg Nash

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittWith offshore drilling scheme, Trump's America looks like a banana republic Overnight Energy: California regulators vote to close nuclear plant | Watchdog expands Pruitt travel probe | Washington state seeks exemption from offshore drilling plan Overnight Regulation: Fight erupts over gun export rules | WH meets advocates on prison reform | Officials move to allow Medicaid work requirements | New IRS guidance on taxes MORE told senators his agency will ensure that climate change researchers and other scientists at the agency are free to present their work at conferences.

The concern from Democratic senators was prompted in part by an October New York Times report that a trio of EPA scientists were prohibited, with little notice, from presenting their work on the impact of climate change on watershed at a Rhode Island conference.

“Procedures have been put in place to prevent such an occurrence in the future,” Pruitt wrote in a letter to Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate Finance Dems want more transparency on trade from Trump Trump, Kushner meet with advocates on prison reform Democrats search for Russians — any Russians — for collusion story MORE (D-R.I.) that was published Wednesday.

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“I have assured Office of Research and Development political and career senior leadership that they have the authority to make decisions about event participation going forward,” he wrote. “Additionally, I am committed to upholding EPA’s Scientific Integrity Policy, which ensures that the agency’s scientific work is of the highest quality, is presented openly and with integrity, and is free from political interference.”

Pruitt said in his letter that all three of the scientists at issue still participated in the larger Rhode Island conference, and one spoke on a Boston radio show about it.

Whitehouse and 11 other New England Democrats had written to Pruitt with their concerns about the scientists’ participation in the Rhode Island event.

“After the EPA’s reckless and shortsighted decision to muzzle its own scientists from presenting to the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, we appreciate Administrator Pruitt’s commitment never to let this happen again,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement on Pruitt’s letter. “We will hold him to that commitment.”