EPA chief to replace Trump appointees on science advisory panels
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan announced Wednesday that the EPA will reconstitute two advisory panels that saw numerous members removed during the Trump administration, dismissing 40 Trump appointees in the process.
The EPA’s Science Advisory Board and Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) will be reconfigured in a way that undoes what Regan characterized as undue political and industry influence under former agency chiefs Scott Pruitt and Andrew Wheeler.
“Scientific integrity is one of EPA’s foundational values – and as Administrator, I am committed to ensuring that every decision we make meets rigorous scientific standards,” Regan said in a statement Wednesday.
“Resetting these two scientific advisory committees will ensure the agency receives the best possible scientific insight to support our work to protect human health and the environment. Today we return to a time-tested, fair, and transparent process for soliciting membership to these critically important advisory bodies.”
Regan cited a number of Trump administration moves that he said the agency will undo. These include an October 2017 internal directive that barred the recipients of EPA research grants from concurrently serving on advisory panels.
He said the EPA also will roll back the previous elimination of “key air pollution review panels that have augmented the CASAC for decades.”
Wheeler disbanded the CASAC’s Particulate Matter Review Panel in October 2018. The following year, the scientists who served on the committee announced they would reconvene without government backing.
In a 2019 report, the Government Accountability Office concluded that the agency did not properly follow agency processes for selecting the “best qualified and most appropriate candidates” in appointing industry representatives and consultants to the Science Advisory Board. Recipients of industry funding were not subject to the same restrictions as recipients of EPA research grants.