The Environmental Protection Agency just effectively fired most of the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC). Members of the the Board, tasked with providing scientific advice to the EPA’s research branch, will not be permitted to renew their membership when it expires this August. This leaves the executive committee of the BOSC with only five remaining executive committee members, and eight (out of 46) subcommittee members.
“It effectively wipes out the BOSC and leaves it free for a complete reappointment,” said Deborah Swackhamer, current chair of the board’s executive committee.
Terms on the BOSC last for 3 years, with term renewals being the norm.
“We were told quite explicitly by the leadership of the sustainable and healthy communities group … that our assignment was a four-to-five-year assignment. That was what we were told at our first meeting. That produces an assumption that you’re going to get reappointed so that you can complete the job,” said Peter Meyer, an economist who had already resigned from BOSC in protest of the Trump administration’s ongoing purge of scientists from the EPA.
While the agency says that exiting members are allowed to reapply by June 30th and justifies the shake up as a way to “reach out to a broad array of applicants,” many worry that this is yet another move by the Trump administration to cripple its efforts to fight climate change and pollution.
Trump has already directed EPA administrator Scott Pruitt to drastically slash the EPA’s budget, with a whopping 40% cut to its main science branch and has systematically stripped Obama-era regulations which combatted climate change and protected water supplies. Pruitt famously does not believe that human activity is the primary factor causing climate change, a belief which contradicts the near-unanimous conclusions of climate scientists.
These dismissals are the latest in an ongoing scientific purge being enacted in the EPA. Just last month, five scientists of a major EPA scientific review board were fired by Pruitt and replaced by industry lobbyists whose pollution the agency is supposed to regulate.
“This gives me a great deal of concern about the erosion of science in this administration,” said Robert Richardson, an ecological economist who was fired from a BOSC subcommittee earlier this spring. “It’s hard to understand the rationale behind a decision like this… (but) I don’t think anybody is terribly surprised. [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.”
Other advisory committees who likely will fall prey to similar shake ups in the future include The Science Advisory Board and Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee.
Nathan Wellman is a Los Angeles-based journalist, author, and playwright. His less-political Youtube channel can be found here. Follow him on Twitter: @LightningWOW