WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt smiles while President Donald Trump leads a tribal, State, and local energy roundtable in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on June 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Molly Riley-Pool/Getty Images)

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt ponders the future of the agency he was appointed to wreck. The day that smirk gets wiped off his face cannot come soon enough.

Back in October, Environmental Protection Agency-hating EPA chief Scott Pruitt announced a directive about who could advise the agency on its research and regulatory priorities. Scientists who received EPA grants for their research would no longer be permitted to serve on any of the agency’s 23 advisory committees. That, of course, applies to just about any scientist of note who has investigated anything having to do with the environment.

The EPA claimed that this approach would ensure advisers are “independent and free from any real, apparent or potential interference with their ability to objectively serve as a committee member.” But—surprise!!—advisers who have received grants or funding from industries notorious for the environmental wreckage they have created are not excluded by the directive.

Now, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and an individual scientist represented by Protect Democracy have sued the EPA in the matter.

They say the agency’s directive “is arbitrary, without any factual or legal grounding, and violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires advisory committees to be fairly balanced and protected from inappropriate influence by the appointing authority.” In a press release, the plaintiffs argue that the EPA move is an attack on science itself.

Not exactly unexpected in an EPA run by a climate science denier who is one the most aggressively bad administrators in Trump’s regime brimful of such deniers.

Among other things, the plaintiffs say:

Independent facts and institutions, and the open exchange of accurate scientific information, are touchstones of a functioning democracy. Anti-democratic regimes often seek to delegitimize and suppress authoritative voices that offer accurate information, especially if it can be used to criticize the government. President Trump and hisadministration have shown authoritarian tendencies in many ways, including a demonstrated hostility to science and to developing policy based on impartial and balanced scientific evidence. Recent particularly harrowing examples include subjecting traditionally independent EPA grant fundingto political review,and EPA scientistsbeing pulledfrompublic eventsaddressing critical national challenges, apparently because of their scientific views. […]

A policy that excludes the nation’s most eminent scientists not only silences key, unbiased voices in EPA policy development, but signals government disapproval of the former committee members’ work—including, for example, critical climate change research. Government suppression and delegitimization of scientists and scientific research is anti-democratic and impedes the American public’s ability to knowledgeably engage with pressing national issues.


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