Energy & Environment

EPA puts climate change skeptic, conservative think tank scholar on science board

Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Andrew Wheeler has put eight new members on the agency’s main board of external science advisers.

The new members include an outspoken skeptic of climate change science, a scholar at a conservative group funded in part by billionaire businessman Charles Koch and researchers who have received industry funding.

The Science Advisory Board is the main body that advises the EPA on scientific matters, like scrutinizing regulations and directing the agency’s actions.

{mosads}The new members announced Thursday continue former EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s controversial policy of banning members who received EPA grants, a move that critics assailed as an attempt to make the committee more industry-friendly.

“In a fair, open, and transparent fashion, EPA reviewed hundreds of qualified applicants nominated for this committee,” Wheeler said in a statement.

“Members who will be appointed or reappointed include experts from a wide variety of scientific disciplines who reflect the geographic diversity needed to represent all ten EPA regions.”

The EPA noted Wheeler kept on the board everyone who was eligible to remain, including many named by the Obama administration.

The new members include John Christy, an atmospheric science professor at the University of Alabama – Huntsville who is an outspoken climate skeptic and often cited by pundits and politicians opposing climate policies.

Christy’s work includes arguing that the climate is less sensitive to greenhouse gas emissions than the scientific consensus has found, including the United Nations’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He argues, therefore, that human activity has a very small impact on the climate.

He told the House Science Committee in 2017 that the climate models that international bodies rely upon have failed in the past and shouldn’t be used to set policy.

“The average of the models is considered to be untruthful in representing the recent decades of climate variation and change, and thus would be inappropriate for use in predicting future changes in the climate or for related policy decisions,” he said.

Another new member is Richard Williams, a scholar at the Mercatus Center, a conservative think tank affiliated with George Mason University. It counts billionaire Republican donor Charles Koch as a board member and has received funding from him and his brother, David.

Williams, a former Food and Drug Administration official, has argued that there should be more controls on the government’s ability to regulate and that cost-benefit analysis needs to be improved.

“Quality regulations with proper oversight are good and necessary,” he wrote in U.S. News & World Report last year.

“430 federal departments, agencies and sub-agencies are at work year-round producing an average of 10 regulations every single day of the year with minimal oversight from any of the three branches of government. Every American should be concerned.”

The board will now also include Brant Ulsh, a health physicist at M.H. Chew and Associates.

Ulsh’s research focuses on low-dose radiation. He has argued against the federal government’s current model for studying the impact of low-dose radiation on humans and said that it is improper to assume that even small radiation levels can be harmful.

Wheeler also picked new members for four subcommittees that focus on agriculture, chemicals, drinking water and radiation.

Tags Climate change EPA Science board Scott Pruitt

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video