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EPA's Pruitt recuses himself from environmental lawsuits


A Michigan State University professor who served on an important scientific review board complained about his and other members' dismissal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, telling the Washington Post this weekend he has "great concern that objective science is being marginalized" by the Trump administration.

Half of the 18 members on the board have been informed that their three-year terms will not be renewed, according to the Washington Post.

"We have been informed that your appointments are not being renewed and that the Agency will carry out a competitive nomination process to solicit new members rather than reappointing individuals who have already served a three-year term", read the message from the EPA sent to one scientist on the board and obtained by CNN.

The counselors are typically top academic experts in their fields tasked with helping ensure the agency's scientists follow best practices.

"We're not going to rubber-stamp the last administration's appointees".

"The administrator believes we should have people on this board who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community", spokesperson J.P. Freire told The Times. He said he is not sure which EPA official told the scientists they would be continuing to advise the agency, but 12 members were now dismissed.

"These reforms will strengthen the public's trust of the science the EPA uses to support its regulations", Science, Space and Technology Committee Chair Texas Rep. Lamar Smith said on the House floor March regarding the bill. That has included the 47-member Scientific Advisory Board, which Republican members of Congress have said needs reworking to "provide meaningful and unbiased scientific advice" and increased transparency.

The agency has also removed some scientific data on climate change from its websites.




EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has always been a fierce critic of the agency he now leads, saying its scientists often fail to weigh the cost of implementing new regulations on businesses.

An EPA spokesperson did not respond to TPM's questions about whether, or how dramatically, Pruitt meant to change the balance of the board to favor industry scientists.

The Trump administration also has called for deep cuts at the EPA, reducing its overall budget by almost a third, at the same time the administration has moved to reverse or slow some of the agency's regulatory decisions.

But EPA career staffers misspoke, and the Trump administration had no intention of keeping the Obama holdovers.

It remains to be seen who will get appointed to the board.

Conservatives have complained about EPA's approach to science, including the input it receives from outside scientific bodies, for years.

The measure would effectively prevent many scientific experts from serving on the oversight board.

The Interior Department, which has more than 200 groups created to solicit input, is now reviewing the charter and charge of each board and advisory committee; the evaluation forced the temporary postponement of advisory committee meetings, the department said in an emailed statement.

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