The Trump administration is moving to revamp an EPA committee that conservatives believe rubber-stamped many of former President Barack Obama’s climate regulations.
Only a handful of subcommittee members on the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) will remain after the agency suspended the board’s meetings for the rest of the year. The decision comes after EPA head Scott Pruitt jettisoned five academics from the BOSC in May.
The cancellations, which were announced Monday in an email to BOSC members, come as the White House considers replacing members of the board with officials sympathetic to business concerns.
“It completely wipes out BOSC,” committee Chairwoman Deborah Swackhamer said in a statement about the EPA’s decision to scuttle future meetings. The BOSC will only have 11 of 49 subcommittee members because of the agency’s move.
The EPA will accept applications from scientists from across the spectrum, agency spokeswoman Amy Graham wrote Tuesday in a statement. “We are taking an inclusive approach to filling future BOSC appointments and welcome all applicants from all relevant scientific and technical fields,” she added.
Pruitt’s dismissals come after legislation meant to reconfigure the board’s makeup passed the House in May. They also follow months of promises from President Donald Trump to reduce the EPA’s budget and ratchet down the agency’s role in fighting global warming.
Scientists believe the EPA’s move to reshuffle the board is a blatant act meant to stifle scientific research on global warming. Those who were dismissed in May believe that the move was political.
“Most of use on the council are academic people,” said Ponisseril Somasundaran, a chemist at Columbia University and former member on the board. “I think they want to bring in business and industry people.”
Courtney Flint, a professor of resource sociology at Utah State University, said that the dismissal was “unexpected” and should be considered a “red flag” to others on the board. She researched how communities respond to toxic pollution, forest fires, and climate change.
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