In yet another demonstration of the environmental catastrophe that is President Donald Trump, reports have emerged that the Environmental Protection Agency will replace five climate scientists on its scientific review board with representatives from industries that the EPA is supposed to regulate.
An EPA spokesman said EPA head Scott Pruitt believes “we should have people on this board who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community.” The spokesman added:
“We want to expand the pool of applicants to as broad a range as possible, to include universities that aren’t typically represented and issues that aren’t typically represented.”
The replacement of qualified scientists with “industry individuals” will drastically affect the academic rigor with which the scientific review board operates. The dismissals come six weeks after the House passed a bill that aimed to change the composition of the scientific review board.
Trump has pushed for Pruitt to enact radical changes to the EPA, including slashing the budget and rolling back Obama-era regulations on climate change and clean water protection. The agency has recently removed a lot of climate change data from its website.
It comes as no surprise that Pruitt also happens to be a climate change denier. One of his first public appearances as the EPA administrator was to a coal mine, where he pledged that the EPA would help restore the industry.
It would seem that Pruitt has a fundamental misunderstanding of what the agency is supposed to be doing.
Naturally, individuals in the science community did not take this development lightly. Ken Kimmel, President of the Union of Concerned Scientists, commented:
“This is completely part of a multifaceted effort to get science out of the way of a deregulation agenda. What seems to be premature removals of members of this Board of Science Counselors when the board has come out in favor of the EPA strengthening its climate science, plus the severe cuts to research and development — you have to see all these things as interconnected.”
One of the scientists dismissed also made a statement on the matter. Courtney Flint, professor of natural resource sociology at Utah State University said she believes “this is political. It’s unexpected. A red flag.”
The scientific review board reviews and evaluates research conducted by EPA scientists, whose work is used to devise government regulations or draft rules and restrictions on all things environmental, from hazardous waste dumped in water to carbon emissions.
Trump is replacing these qualified individuals with industry and business representatives, allowing them not only to question the validity of this scientific research but the subsequent regulations. Put bluntly, Trump has invited fossil fuel industries to the table and given them a chance to soften regulations or veto them entirely before they are written.
This is not the only review board to suffer. The Science Advisory Board, which has 47 members, has also fallen prey to Trump’s politically motivated changes. Their task is to evaluate and advise on the integrity of regulations.
We always knew Trump was going to be business friendly, but this act is intentionally vindictive and destructive. Big oil and their cronies now will not only benefit from the environmental deregulation championed by Trump but will also be able to ensure that no further regulations emerge.
Republicans always talk about protecting our country, but since when does protecting our country stop at simply having a big defense budget?