Report: Trump Aims To Balance Out EPA’s Influential Science Board With Climate Skeptics

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Academics espousing skeptical positions on climate change are included in a list of 132 possible nominees for positions on the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, according to a report Monday from The Washington Post.

Anyone can nominate a person for consideration during the nominee process, and an EPA official involved in the process told reporters the agency has not whittled down the submissions. E&E News identified ten board nominees on the list who appear to express skeptical positions on widely-accepted findings of climate science.

One of the nominees, astrophysicist Gordon Fulks, suggested in 2010 that he is “concerned that many who promote the idea of catastrophic global warming reduce science to a political and economic game.” Fulks, a policy advisor at free market group Heartland Institute, also believes climate change comes mostly from natural variation.

The Earth has undergone “modest warming as we have come out of the Little Ice Age since about 1830 in ice core temperature reconstructions. That surely says that the warming over the last almost two centuries is natural in origin,” Fulks told reporters.

Fulks added that if he is placed on the Science Advisory Board, he would work “to make sure that the decisions that the EPA makes regarding regulations are firmly based in science and not superstition.” The board currently has 47 members, but 15 have terms ending in September.

Another name on the list is meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo, who once submitted an amicus brief with 13 other scientists targeting the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. He challenged the agency’s key finding that atmospheric carbon dioxide endangers human health and welfare and helps warm the Earth.

“EPA has no proof whatsoever that CO2 has a statistically significant impact on global temperatures,” D’Aleo, wrote at the time. “Many scientists feel no such proof exists.” The list comes as the EPA continues to beat back allegations the agency is targeting academics who support Obama-era climate regulations.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has come under intense scrutiny recently for jettisoning academics on the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) in May. The Trump administration believes the BOSC acted as a type of rubber stamp for many of the climate rules crafted during the Obama-era.

The dismissals came after legislation meant to reconfigure the board’s makeup passed the House in June. It also follows months of promises from President Donald Trump to reduce the EPA’s budget and ratchet down the agency’s role in fighting global warming.

Environmentalists hope the list gets winnowed down and that those representing skeptical positions on climate change are tossed out.

“We should be able to trust that those who serve the EPA are the all-stars in their fields and committed to public service,” Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told reporters Monday.

He believes the nominations will be a test for Pruitt’s willingness to maintain the scientific board’s independence.

“He already has a parade of lobbyists and advisers providing him with the perspectives from oil, gas, and chemical companies,” Halpern said, referring to allegations the EPA administrator secretly cavorts with oil company CEOs and executives in Oklahoma.

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