Trump’s EPA goes to war on science – and scientists
The message to all federal employees is, if you haven’t drunk deeply of the Trump-inspired nonsense spewed by the putative president, America has no use for you. Scott Pruitt, chief defender of the faith at the agency formerly known as the Environmental Protection Agency, is on a mission to slash the agency’s staffing levels and budget.
By Steve Hanley
Outrage At The EPA
The latest outrage is revealed in an email sent to EPA scientists that was obtained by the Washington Post. The EPA has decided not to renew the employment of any scientist working for the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors. Their terms expire at the end of August. The Board was created to make sure the actions of the Office of Research and Development are supported by a rigorous scientific foundation.
“The Board of Scientific Counselors was formed to make sure the EPA does the best possible scientific work with limited taxpayer dollars,” Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a statement. “This independent advice is needed now more than ever. By sacking dozens of scientific counselors, Pruitt is showing that he doesn’t value scientific input and the benefits it offers the public.”
No Scientists Need Apply
Scott Pruitt, who has made it his life’s mission to eviscerate the EPA, notified the 9 members of the Board in May that their terms would not be renewed when they expire later this year. Instead, Pruitt intends to stock it with fossil fuel industry toadies who will move to lower environmental regulations that impact their industry. Pruitt thinks the individual states should be allowed to make their own rules and regulations, an approach that worked pretty well during the Jim Crow era. Why mess with success?
Scott Openshaw, a spokesman for the American Chemistry Council, says the dismissals would help address industry concerns that “EPA advisory boards did not include a diversity of views and therefore frequently presented a biased perspective on issues before them.” Yup, and the fox will do a good job of guarding the hen house too, Mr. Openshaw.
In all, 47 members of the board will be terminated in the next few months. None of its subcommittees has a chair or vice chair at the moment and all committee meetings scheduled for late summer and fall have been cancelled. “Pruitt has pulled off a devious process here. He’s signaled that he intends to dismiss experienced advisors whose terms are expiring over the next year and he’s using the fact that he’s dismissing them to immediately block them from doing any more work,” says Kimmell.
Pruitt’s false claims about climate change to CNBC in March are currently being reviewed by the EPA’s Scientific Integrity Officer, who better get on board the Trump bus PDQ if he doesn’t want to get fired by the alleged president.
Letting The Fox Guard The Hen House
“The decision to suspend the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors and dismiss numerous scientists from its ranks is another brazen act of disregard for science by Scott Pruitt. I’m concerned that he may continue to replace scientists with industry insiders or simply leave the Board in limbo,” Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia, told Think Progress in an email. “Pruitt’s longstanding antipathy to the agency he leads and its mission of protecting clean air and water will become a greater menace to public health as he cedes more and more influence to industry at the expense of sound scientific advice.”
An administration official who spoke anonymously with the Washington Post hints that dismantling the Board of Scientific Counselors may be just the tip of the iceberg. (We will need to invent a new adage soon, as icebergs continue to disappear under the stewardship of Pruitt and his fossil fuel–sucking cronies.) The source says Pruitt is also considering replacing the members of the agency’s Scientific Advisory Board with industry flaks.
Welcome to the new, slimmed down, agile EPA, where actual scientists are despised and industry whores are welcome. What could possibly go wrong?
(Originally appeared at our sister-site, Cleantechnica.)