Energy & Environment

Pruitt tapped EPA science advisers with guidance from major Trump donor

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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt sought and acted upon a recommendation from a major Trump campaign donor for an individual to head the agency’s leading science body, internal documents show.

Doug Deason, a Dallas businessman and financial backer of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, gave the EPA a list of names of candidates for Pruitt’s Science Advisory Board in August, after being asked by Pruitt personally for recommendations.

{mosads}Deason’s involvement in making suggestions for the board, of which one — Michael Honeycutt — was appointed, was unearthed in a trove of internal EPA emails obtained by the Sierra Club through a Freedom of Information Act request and first reported on by Politico Friday.

The list Deason supplied to the EPA was originally drafted by the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), Politico reported. Deason is a board member of the foundation.

The list’s author, according to documents, was Kathleen Hartnett White, a TPPF fellow who was later nominated to run the Council on Environmental Quality. White failed to get confirmed due to a lack of scientific credentials and comments that were dismissive of climate change.

In a May 2017 email, Deason told Pruitt’s executive scheduler Sydney Hupp that Pruitt had asked him to “help them add a few experts on a new proposed Science Advisory Board.”

The EPA did not publicly submit a request for names of candidates to the advisory bored until June 2017.

Months later, White’s list made it into the hands of Pruitt’s chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, according to Politico. According to correspondence, TPPF Executive Director Kevin Roberts said White “especially recommends Dr. Michael Honeycutt of the TCEQ.”

Honeycutt, a toxicologist at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, was ultimately appointed to head the board in late October.

Deason confirmed to Politico that he had made the recommendations, but an EPA spokesperson told the outley that Honeycutt was chosen based on multiple factors.

“He is a well-qualified and respected toxicologist, he has been nominated by multiple people and considered for EPA science advisory committees for the last several years,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

The EPA’s handling of its science advisory boards has been heavily criticized since Pruitt took the helm of the agency.

Pruitt announced last year that scientists receiving grants from the EPA would be prohibited from sitting on the boards due to conflicts of interest. He also expressed an interest in varying the voices sitting on the committee, including those of industry experts.

The board is meant to serve as an independent adviser to the agency’s regulatory processes.

Tags EPA Science Advisory Board Scott Pruitt Trump donor
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