Lawmakers ‘alarmed’ by EPA’s science board changes

Lawmakers ‘alarmed’ by EPA’s science board changes
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A group of mostly Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday slammed a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) policy designed to overhaul the agency’s scientific advisory panels.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittGovernment watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas MORE, 62 members of the House said his new policy blocking scientists who receive EPA grants from serving on the agency’s science panels is an “arbitrary and unnecessary limitation to disqualify preeminent experts” from advising the agency. 

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“We are alarmed at the signal this sends about the EPA's willingness to seek out objective, independent scientific expertise in fulfilling its mandate to protect the environment,” the members wrote in their letter.

“The [Science Advisory Board] has been well-respected because of its historical inclusion of independent, objective scientists from both academic and industry backgrounds.”

Rep. Bill FosterGeorge (Bill) William FosterCongress and Trump are out of step on intellectual property Overnight Defense: House passes 5B defense spending bill | Pentagon moving forward on Trump military parade | Mattis vows 'ironclad' support for South Korea's defense House passes 5B Pentagon spending bill MORE (D-Ill.) led the letter, which included one Republican — Rep. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickDems seek to rebuild blue wall in Rust Belt contests Congress prepares to punt biggest political battles until after midterms Preventing violence isn’t partisan: Time to reauthorize Violence Against Women Act MORE (R-Penn.).

Pruitt last week announced the agency would block scientists who receive EPA grants from serving on science advisory boards, saying such positions represent a conflict of interest and regulated industries should have a louder voice in EPA operations.

“Those advisory committees have given us the bedrock of science to ensure that we’re making informed decisions,” Pruitt said last week.

“And when we have members of those committees that have received tens of millions of dollars in grants at the same time that they’re advising this agency on rulemaking, that is not good and that’s not right,” he said.

On Friday, the EPA named dozens of new members to its science advisory boards, including state officials and representatives from oil companies and interest groups.