EPA-Funded Scientists Barred From Serving on Advisory Committees

Silencing Science Tracker

EPA-Funded Scientists Barred From Serving on Advisory Committees

On October 31, 2017, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a directive preventing any researcher receiving agency grants from serving on its scientific advisory panels. The directive states:

“Members shall be independent from EPA, which shall include a requirement that no member of an EPA federal advisory committee be currently in receipt of EPA grants, either as principal investor or co-investigator, or in a position that otherwise would reap substantial direct benefit from an EPA grant.”

Update: In January 2018, two Iowa State University professors were removed from EPA scientific advisory panels as they receive federal funding, contrary to Administrator Pruitt’s directive.

On November 8, 2018, ten Democratic and Independent Senators wrote to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting that it consider several questions relating to Administrator Pruitt’s directive. Two of the Senators subsequently sent a second letter to GAO, on February 14, 2018, to notify it of information suggesting that Administrator Pruitt and his designees “are disregarding normal procedures and advice from career staff.”

Response: Administrator Pruitt’s directive has been challenged in three separate lawsuits, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. See our blog for more information.

In response to the directive, the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors established a new Environmental Science and Policy Advisory Committee (ESPAC) to review EPA scientific reports. The ESPAC is intended to “provide unbiased reviews of the science supporting selected planned regulatory actions under consideration by the EPA. The committee will also assess the appropriateness and scientific soundness of the conclusions presented in the EPA reports. The ESPAC will operate in a manner similar to that of the . . . [EPA’s] Science Advisory Board” and will be chaired by a former member of the board.

 

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