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 PruittOvernight Energy: Fewer than half of school districts test for lead | Dems slam proposed changes to Endangered Species Act | FEMA avoids climate change when discussing plan for future storms Greens sue EPA over ‘super-polluting’ truck rule Don’t worry (too much) about Kavanaugh changing the Supreme Court 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 Dems protest vote on controversial court pick Who is Andrew Wheeler, EPA's new acting chief? Congress can protect midterm elections with the Disclose Act 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.”