EPA announces new clean air advisors after firing Trump appointees
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new members of a clean air advisory group after taking the unusual step of dismissing the panel’s prior members, who were appointed under the Trump administration.
In a statement, the agency announced the seven members of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), which provides independent advice on technical aspects of air quality standards.
Two of the members are Trump appointees who returned to the committee after being dismissed by Administrator Michael Regan earlier this year.
James Boylan works in air protection at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Mark Frampton is a professor emeritus in pulmonary and critical care at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Some of the Trump administration’s other picks for the committee came under scrutiny for industry ties.
Regan fired a particularly controversial official, Louis Anthony “Tony” Cox Jr., who has allegedly taken funding from a major oil lobbying group for his own research into a type of pollution called particulate matter, and denied the link between the pollutant and mortality.
The EPA billed its decision to remove such officials as a way to reverse undue industry influence, but Republicans have criticized it as an apparent “political purge” and said they’d conduct oversight into the move.
Elizabeth “Lianne” Sheppard, professor in the University of Washington’s Environmental and Occupational health science and biostatistics departments, will along be joining the advisory board along with Michelle Bell, an environmental health professor at Yale; Judith Chow, a professor of atmospheric science at the Desert Research Institute; Christina Fuller, an environmental health professor at Georgia State University; and Alexandra Ponette-González, a geography and environment professor at the University of North Texas.
The statement also said the agency will publish a federal register notice seeking nominations of experts for a separate CASAC panel that will specifically look at particulate matter, exposure to which has been linked to heart attacks, asthma attacks and premature death.
The particulate matter panel was disbanded under the Trump administration. The new announcement comes as the agency also seeks to reevaluate the Trump-era decision to not tighten air quality standards for the pollutant.