Energy & Environment

EPA to restrict scientific advisers who get agency grants


The Trump administration plans to restrict the ability of scientists who get Environmental Protection Agency grants to serve on the agency’s scientific advisory committees.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt teased a new policy on the matter during an event at the conservative Heritage Foundation on Tuesday, saying he’ll issue a directive next week.

He did not say how restrictive the policy would be. But it has the potential to greatly reduce the body of expert scientists who could serve on the boards that advise Pruitt and the EPA on matters like policy and enforcement.


“Those individuals, as they’ve served in those capacities … they’ve received monies through grants, and sometimes substantial monies through grants,” Pruitt said.

“I think what’s most important at the agency is to have advisers, scientific advisers, that are objective, independent-minded, providing transparent recommendations to me as the administrator and to our office, on decisions we’re making on the efficacy of rules that we’re passing to address environmental issues,” he continued.

“If we have individuals who are on those boards receiving money from the agency … that to me causes question on the independence and the veracity and the transparency of those recommendations that are coming our way.”

Pruitt said his directive next week will “fix that.” He compared it to his Monday directive meant to crack down on settlements with environmental groups who sue the agency over regulatory matters.

The directive on scientists who receive grants would come amid a shake-up of the EPA advisory boards under Pruitt.

Earlier this year, he declined to renew half of the membership of the 18-person Board of Scientific Counselors. He is considering more than 130 candidates to fill 15 spots opening up on the Science Advisory Board, and many of the candidates reject mainstream science on issues like climate change or have close ties to industries the EPA regulates.

Republicans, including Pruitt, complained frequently that the Obama administration stacked EPA’s advisory boards with people predisposed to support the administration’s policies, shutting out dissenting voices.

The GOP has unsuccessfully sponsored legislation in the past to overhaul how advisory boards are constituted, including to bar EPA grantees, which Republicans see as having conflicts of interest.

Tags Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt

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