As last week was winding down, Administrator Scott Pruitt carried on with the process of remaking the science advisory process at the EPA.
Unlike last summer when he wiped clean the slate of scientific councilors informing the agency’s Office of Research and Development, Pruitt took aim at the heart of the EPA’s science advisory process: The Chartered Science Advisory Board (SAB), whose role is congressionally mandated, and the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Council (CASAC).
Pruitt said that the agency will no longer appoint scientists to these boards who have received EPA grants. Said Pruitt, “from this day forward, EPA advisory committee members will be financially independent from the agency.”
What a bunch of bullshit.
According to an investigative report from The New Republic, Michael Honeycutt, a toxicologist from the Texas Commission on Environment Quality, is pegged as the new Chair of the SAB; his state agency — that is the same state agency that pays Honeycutt’s salary — receives $48.5 million each year from the federal government, most of it from the EPA.
And, that’s not all.
Newly appointed CASAC advisor, James Boylan is from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, which gets one-third of its funding from the EPA.
The North Carolina DEQ’s Donald van der Vaart works for an agency that received at least five EPA grants this year.
And, Bob Blanz, who will serve on both the SAB and the Board of Scientific Councillors, which advises the EPA’s Office of Research and Development, works for a state agency in Arkansas that just received $650,000 from EPA for water quality programs.
Here’s the bottom line: Scott Pruitt is a hypocrite.
But, in addition to being a hypocrite, Pruitt is a coward.
Rather, than having the guts to say he doesn’t care about what the country’s leading scientists have to say, he’s hiding behind some patently phony conflict-of-interest nonsense.
And, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Pruitt is taking these steps so he can stack the deck of EPA “science” advisors with people whose defining credential is that they are willing to go along with his deregulatory agenda because they are the ones who stand to benefit most from it.
The same goes for EPA and White House advisors like Nancy Beck and Kathleen Barnett-White.
It’s Monday, the 6th of November, 2017. It’s not a normal day.
You can find me on Twitter at @DecisionLab