Environmental groups furious after EPA-funded scientists banned from advisory positions

The sky is falling, according to liberal scientists. The left’s hysteria over a shakeup head of the Environmental Protection Agency by EPA head Scott Pruitt shows President Trump chose the right person for the job.

Pruitt rolled out a new rule this week prohibiting scientists from simultaneously receiving EPA grants and serving on the agency’s advisory boards, The Hill reports.

The change is meant to reduce conflict of interest. A memo sent out by the EPA reads:

“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 investigator or co-investigator, or in a position that would otherwise reap substantial direct benefit from an EPA grant.”

However, the new rule does allow exceptions for local, state, and tribal governments: “This principle shall not apply to state, tribal, or local government agency recipients of EPA grants.”

Pruitt, who notes that EPA advisory committee members have gotten $77 million in EPA grants in the last three years alone, describes the new policy as essential for maintaining the “integrity” of the EPA.

“We want to ensure that there’s integrity in the process, and that the scientists who are advising us are doing so with not any type of appearance of conflict,” he explained. “And when you receive that much money … there’s a question that arises about independence.”

But the change has left-wing environmental groups up in arms.

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Michael Halpern, Deputy Director of Center for Science & Democracy, wrote on the Union of Concerned Scientists blog:

“Such a move bans some independent scientists from providing scientific advice while giving those with conflicts a free pass. Collectively, these actions create an abhorrent double standard: scientists who rely on public funding are left out, while industry scientists face no restrictions on service. Fossil fuel and chemical companies already enjoy undue influence over EPA policy under Pruitt. Now, they’re taking control over science advice to the agency.”

For a scientific organization, the Union of Concerned Scientists sounds highly political. Among the goals they list on their website are a determination to “fighting misinformation, advancing racial equity, and reducing the threat of nuclear war.”

Rush Holt, CEO of The American Association for the Advancement of Science, said his organization “denounces the EPA administrator’s decision to disallow qualified scientific experts from providing evidence-based information as members of its science adviser boards.”

For Holt, the policy change “is motivated by politics, not the desire for quality scientific information.”

Scientists also condemned the choice of toxicologist and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality head Michael Honeycutt to lead the Science Advisory Board. Honeycutt was a prominent critic of the Obama administration’s environmental policies.

As expected, the liberal media jumped to depict Pruitt’s rule as “unscientific,” going so far as to say he was basing his decision-making on the Bible after he quoted from the book of Joshua in order to illustrate the importance of independence.

“‘Choose this day whom you will serve,'” Pruitt said. “This is sort of like the Joshua principle. Either service on the committee to provide counsel to us in an independent fashion or choose the grant. But you can’t do both.”


But conservatives are no longer surprised by the dishonesty of the mainstream media. Meanwhile, the move was praised by Republican lawmakers, who have been in the process of writing legislation that would implement changes at the EPA similar to the ones Pruitt has now put in place.

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“For too long, the agency’s advisory committees were not representative of the whole country,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY). “Today’s directive from Administrator Pruitt will ensure that the unique perspectives of Wyoming and other rural states are not left out of the conversation.”


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