Dozens of scientists advising the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been notified their contracts will not be renewed, The Washington Post reports.
The EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) and subcommittee members are nominated by peers if they have significant scientific experience and have done environmental research; they are not political appointees. Members are appointed to three-year terms, but they are traditionally renewed for another term.
“EPA is grateful for the service of all BOSC members, past and present, and has encouraged those with expiring terms to reapply,” an agency spokeswoman told the Post.
The Post adds:
That executive committee has only five remaining members, after a number of members whose terms were up earlier this year were not renewed. The board also has five subcommittees, but according to an email from Swackhamer, “with the latest information from EPA, 38 of the 49 remaining subcommittee members will not be renewed at the end of August.”
It is “another example of the erosion of the role of science in federal government,” said Robert Richardson, an ecological economist and associate professor in Michigan State University’s Department of Community Sustainability, who co-chaired one of the BOSC subcommittees and was let go earlier this spring.
“It’s hard to understand the rationale behind a decision like this. I understand they might simply want to repopulate [the board] with people of their own choosing. However, this could also be a way of just weakening advisory boards, of diminishing their role by not replacing members.”
“I don’t think anybody is terribly surprised,” he said. “[Trump officials] have been clear that they intend to wipe all these slates clean. They want no continuity from any decisions that were made by the previous administration, even nonpolitical decisions.”
“It’s just, yet another example of the administration’s disregard for independent scientific counsel, on issues that are critically important to the nation,” said Elena Craft, a researcher based at the advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund who serves on a subcommittee of the board focused on air, climate and energy, also said she received the notice Monday.
Craft, who also said also said she received the notice Monday, added that her subcommittee was scheduled to meet in September, but that’s now off.
On 5 May Mr Richardson took to Twitter with an announcement that he had been “trumped” from his position.
Today, I was Trumped. I have had the pleasure of serving on the EPA Board of Scientific Counselors, and my appointment was terminated today.
— Robert Richardson (@ecotrope) May 5, 2017
An EPA spokesperson said they would be replaced by those in industry “who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community.”