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 PruittOvernight Energy: House stimulus aims to stem airline pollution | Environmental measures become sticking point in Senate talks | Progressives propose T 'green stimulus' Court sides with scientists on EPA policy barring grantees from serving on agency boards Overnight Energy: Senate energy bill stalled amid amendment fight | Coronavirus, oil prices drive market meltdown | Green groups say Dem climate plan doesn't go far enough 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 FosterIllinois governor endorses Biden one day before primary Durbin endorses Biden: He 'can start to heal the wounds of this divided nation' Biden seeks to capitalize on Super Tuesday surprise MORE (D-Ill.) led the letter, which included one Republican — Rep. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickDemocrats bullish on bill to create women's history museum: 'It's an election year' This week: Trump's budget lands with a thud on Capitol Hill House approves pro-union labor bill 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.