USA agency sacks major scientific review board members

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The agency also has an 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors, made up of scholars, which offers guidance on the quality the EPA scientists' research.

Members of the Board of Scientific Counselors are typically top academic experts tasked with helping ensure the agency's scientists follow well-established best practices.

J.P. Freire, a spokesman for the agency, said the Trump administration is now looking for nominees who better match the goals of the president. "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".

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 wants to open up the process to the hundreds of applicants that were not considered by the Obama administration.

The Board of Science Counselors has 18 members, at least five of whom were dismissed on Friday.

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"In the broader view, I suppose it is the prerogative of this administration to set the goals of federal agencies and to appoint members to advisory boards", she added.

The Environmental Protection Agency dismissed a number of scientists on a key review board Friday, and a spokesperson for the agency discussed the possibility that it would replace them with representatives of the industries the agency regulates. The individuals on these boards are appointed based on scientific expertise not politics.

Pruitt, who does not believe in the scientific consensus on climate change, sued the EPA 14 times before leading it and took over with the intention of shrinking the agency.

The EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act, which Smith co-sponsored and which passed the House in late March, bars anyone who has an ongoing EPA research grant from serving on the Science Advisory Board, another board that helps oversee work at the EPA, and prohibits board members from applying for grants for three years after they step down from the panel.

The Trump administration already has targeted EPA's Office of Research and Development for a $233 million spending cut next fiscal year - about half its annual budget. "This approach is what was always intended for the Board and we're making a clear break with the last administration's approach".

"These people aren't Obama appointees, they are scientific appointees". "I see the dismissal of the scientists from the Board of Scientific Counsellors as a test balloon", said Joseph Arvai, an environmental scientist at the University of MI who is on the Scientific Advisory Board. EPA's website says BOSC draws on people from "academia, industry/business, federal, state and local governments, non-governmental and environmental organizations, research laboratories, and other relevant entities".

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