Energy & Environment

Republicans probe EPA firing of Trump-appointed science advisers

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The offices of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C.

Two Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee said Wednesday that they are looking into the Biden administration’s decision to reconstitute two key Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advisory groups, dismissing 40 appointees of former President Trump.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, Reps. James Comer (Ky.) and Ralph Norman (S.C.) criticized the move as an apparent “political purge.”

“We are conducting oversight of your decision to abruptly fire all Trump administration appointed members of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) and Science Advisory Board (SAB),” Comer and Norman wrote. 

“The midterm firing of science advisory board members within the first months of a new Administration demonstrates a deeply troubling partisan political agenda,” they added. 

CASAC advises the agency on technical aspects of its air quality standards, and SAB reviews scientific information used by the agency in rulemaking. 

In their letter, the lawmakers asked for documents related to the decision, including any communications with the White House on it. 

“As such, we request documents and information about the decision to fire these officials, including the process used for this unprecedented decision,” they added. 

An EPA spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment on the letter, but last week the agency billed the dismissals as a way to reverse undue political and industry influence. 

“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 said in a statement at the time. 

Under the Trump administration, panel members with industry ties came under scrutiny, with critics fearing they could try to undermine agency science. 

Then-EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler caused controversy in 2018 when he disbanded a CASAC panel made up of scientists who were in charge of evaluating the role of certain pollutants on human health.

Tags Andrew Wheeler Congressional oversight Donald Trump Environmental Protection Agency EPA James Comer Michael Regan oversight Ralph Norman Science Advisory Board
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