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 PruittNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Chaotic Trump transition leaks: Debates must tackle how Democrats will govern differently The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump targets Iran with new sanctions 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 FosterNew bill would restrict Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from lobbying Pelosi joins other Dem leaders in support of Chicago Symphony Orchestra strikers This week: Shutdown showdown looms over new Congress MORE (D-Ill.) led the letter, which included one Republican — Rep. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickOvernight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record Addressing climate change is a win for Republicans — why not embrace it? House passes amendment to block funding for transgender troops ban 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.