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.
At least five members of the BOSC have already been dismissed after their terms ended this year, according to The New York Times; numerous members' terms already have or will expire this fiscal year. It's not until 10 paragraphs into Davenport's story do we find out Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) members serve three-year terms.
If this sounds familiar, it's because in March, Republicans in Congress were calling to "reform" another EPA scientific board - the EPA Science Advisory Board. Speaking to the Washington Post, Pruitt spokesman Freire said the dismissed scientists could reapply for their positions.
"A spokesperson for EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said the administrator is considering replacing the five scientists with representatives of industries whose pollution the EPA polices".
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Robert Richardson, an ecological economist at MSU, said on Twitter he had served on the EPA's Board of Scientific Counselors, but that his appointment was terminated Friday.
"The administrator believes we should have people on this board who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community", said the spokesman, J. P. Freire. The decision is the latest in a series of moves that could benefit polluters.
Those dismissed from the 18-member board told the newspaper that they received an email on Friday telling them that their contracts had expired and would not be removed. "Instead, they should participate in the same open competitive process as the rest of the applicant pool".
"We're not going to rubber-stamp the last administration's appointees", Freire told the Washington Post. Tumult in the board of advisers overseeing that office could ensure there are fewer independent eyes assessing whether important work is being done, said Gretchen Goldman, research director for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
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The Board of Scientific Counselors is tasked with reviewing research conducted by EPA scientists. "Members of the board say they have reviewed the EPA's scientific research on the public health impact of leaking underground fuel tanks, the toxicity of the chemicals used to clean up oil spills, and the effects of the spread of bark beetles caused by a warming climate", the Times writes.
In recent years and months, EPA boards dominated by academic advisers have come under harsh criticism by conservative politicians and policymakers, especially those questioning whether climate change is the result of human activity. This move by the EPA is inserting politics into science.
It remains to be seen who will get appointed to the board.
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