U.S. environmental chief to recuse himself from court cases

Chicago posts deleted EPA climate change information on its website

Chicago posts deleted EPA climate change information on its website

The Environmental Protection Agency dismissed half the scientists who serve on a science review board that plays a crucial role in the work the EPA does, CNN has learned Monday.

Although all the scientists being dismissed are at the ends of their three-year terms, appointees to the board are generally not seen as political actors and usually have their terms renewed.

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

EPA spokesman J.P. Freire said the agency's new leadership wants to consider a wider array of applicants, potentially including those who may work for chemical and fossil fuel companies.

Pruitt has been attacked by critics for his closeness to the energy industry, raising concerns from environmentalists that he will move to replace the board members with more individuals from the energy sector. "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". However, Pruitt's chief of staff told the Washington Post that he thinks the fired members' reactions were out of line. Some in the scientific community say the dismissal of such a large number of scientists from the EPA's Board of Scientific Counselors is further evidence of that. Conservatives also have been seeking new appointments to the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee and the Science Advisory Board to help buttress any EPA moves to reverse Obama-era ozone limits or the agency's landmark 2009 conclusion that greenhouse gas emissions endanger the public health and welfare.

One of those scientists no longer on the Board of Scientific Counselors was Michigan State University environmental scientist Robert Richardson. The individuals on these boards are appointed based on scientific expertise not politics.

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The EPA's actions have been in the spotlight since President Donald Trump took office, with the agency removing information about climate change and potential agency office shutdowns.

A spokesperson for Pruitt said, "The administrator believes we should have people on this board who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community".

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.

"EPA has always been on a path of regulatory overreach, and the committee will use the tools necessary to put EPA back on track", Smith said at the time. That money typically covers travel and other expenses for outside experts who attend the board's public meetings.

We've reached out to the EPA to confirm exactly how many science advisors are being removed and will update if and when we hear back. "Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is "reviewing the charter and charge" of more than 200 advisory boards, committees, and other entities both within and outside of his department", the Post wrote.

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