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EPA clears science boards stacked with Trump’s picks

The Environmental Protection Agency is emptying two main advisory committees filled with experts chosen under former President Donald Trump and filling them with new members – the latest in a series of steps the Biden administration has taken in an attempt to restore the integrity of science in the decision. -manufacturing.

The Science Advisory Board and the Air Quality Science Advisory Board had both come under scrutiny under the Trump administration for whether they had been unduly influenced by outside experts with close connections. with polluting industries. The EPA said on Wednesday it would seek “a balanced panel of experts” for the reconstituted groups.

EPA administrator Michael Regan said the goal was to ensure that “every decision we make meets rigorous scientific standards.”

“Resetting these two scientific advisory committees will ensure the agency has the best possible scientific knowledge to support our work to protect human health and the environment,” Regan said in a statement. “Today we return to a proven, fair and transparent process for seeking membership in these critically important advisory bodies.”

All current members will be “released” and the EPA will “reconstitute, restore and create new committees to better meet the priorities of the EPA,” the agency said.

“The EPA appreciates the dedicated service of its current members and encourages anyone interested to reapply for review,” the agency said in a statement.

The Biden administration was particularly concerned about Trump’s 2017 EPA decision to ban anyone who received agency funding for his research from also sitting on panels, a move that the Trump administration says , could create conflicts of interest. But under President Joe Biden, the EPA said the ban had the effect of “severely restricting membership eligibility” and keeping qualified scientists away from panels.

Some of Trump’s panel choices had also raised concerns about their relevance given their past skepticism about environmental regulations and climate change. In 2019, for example, the Trump administration brought in John Christy, a climatologist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, for the Science Advisory Board. Christy has long been a vocal critic of EPA regulations and questioned the need to limit greenhouse gas emissions while minimizing the threat they pose to the future of the planet.

The move to clean the house of the two groups, made up of outside experts who advise the EPA on major rulings and regulations, marked the latest attempt by the Biden administration to overthrow what Biden officials have described as interference. creeping politics in key decisions under Trump and a distortion. good data and evidence.

Earlier this week, the White House launched a task force to investigate the suppression of science in the Trump administration and create security solutions to ensure that doesn’t happen in the future. The EPA also separately announced this month that it will be looking at four years of environmental policies and decisions made by the Trump administration to see where scientific data may have been intentionally manipulated or deleted.

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