US environmental chief to recuse himself from court cases

US environmental chief to recuse himself from court cases

Richardson, who tweeted on Saturday, "Today, I was Trumped", said that he was at the end of an initial three-year term on the board, but that board members traditionally have served two such stints.

Deborah Swackhamer, chairwoman of the EPA's Board of Scientific Counselors, said on Monday that nine of the 18 experts on the board will not see their contracts renewed for another three-year term. 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. 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.

According to The New York Times, EPA spokesman J.P. Freire suggested that Scott Pruitt is considering replacing the ousted scientists with representatives from industries subject to EPA regulations. I have had the pleasure of serving on the EPA Board of Scientific Counselors, and my appointment was terminated today.

EPA spokesman J.P. Freire said in an email that "no one has been fired or terminated", and that Pruitt had simply made a decision to bring in fresh advisers. "While I have recused myself from making decisions on specific cases, it is my duty and privilege as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to actively engage in rulemaking".

"So, if you ask me, (Pruitt's) moves over the weekend - as well as the House bill to reform the SAB - are attempts to use the SAB as a political toy", Arvai told the Post. "EPA is stressing here that this is supposed to be an open and competitive process; no one was ever supposed to be guaranteed a second term".




Freire called the cuts "a clean break" from the Obama administration's way of doing things. Ponisseril Somasundaran, a chemist at Columbia University who was dismissed from the board, explained that most members of the council are academics. While the move has outraged some environmentalists, it seems completely in line with Pruitt's longstanding goal of curtailing the EPA's regulatory power from within.

The Board of Scientific Counselors is an 18-member board whose mission is to "evaluate science and engineering research, programs and plans, laboratories, and research-management practices of ORD [EPA's office of research and development] and recommend actions to improve their quality and or strengthen their relevance to EPA's mission". The EPA has plenty of scientists who conduct research and publish their findings.

An EPA spokesman disputed that anyone was dismissed, saying that individuals on the science review board are appointed for a single three-year term, and that those whose terms are not renewed can re-apply to serve again in the future.

Sen. James Inhofe (R., Okla.), who questions the link between human activity and climate change and has several former aides now working for Pruitt, said in an interview earlier this year that under the new administration, "They're going to have to start dealing with science and not rigged science" at EPA.

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