Trump hurls another cannon at science and research.
Another bold move has been made by the highly criticized Trump-appointed Environmental Protection Agency head, Scott Pruitt. Dozens of scientists are being kicked off the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) in a sweeping denial of contract renewals.
Robert Kavlock, acting assistant administrator of the Office of Research and Development, made the recent announcement. He said committee members are welcome to reapply, but the EPA is setting the fast-approaching deadline of June 30.
“It effectively wipes out the BOSC and leaves it free for a complete reappointment,” Deborah Swackhamer told the Washington Post in an email. Swackhamer is currently the chair of the board’s executive committee, as well as an emeritus professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Minnesota.
The EPA has been targeted for major budget cuts (losing 31%) by the Trump Administration, but astonishingly, Scott Pruitt seems more than happy to play along. Pruitt was recently called out for false claims that global warming has “leveled off”. The rhetoric was just more clash in the war waging on between scientists and the Trump Administration.
Trump’s budget blueprint took $900 million from the Office of Science, $102 million from NASA, $250 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. EPA cuts alone slashed $330 million from Superfund (environmental toxic waste cleanup) and $427 million from restoration projects.
In protest of the dramatic and senseless turnover, two more scientists on the committee are stepping down. Carlos Martín, engineer at the Urban Institute, and Peter Meyer, economist with E.P. Systems, wrote in a letter,
“We cannot in good conscience be complicit in our co-chairs’ removal, or in the watering down of credible science, engineering, and methodological rigor that is at the heart of that decision”.
Only five scientists now remain on the executive committee. There are also five subcommittees of the board, but Swackhamer explains, “with the latest information from EPA, 38 of the 49 remaining subcommittee members will not be renewed at the end of August.”
EPA spokeswoman Amy Graham said in a statement, “EPA is grateful for the service of all BOSC members, past and present, and has encouraged those with expiring terms to reapply. We are taking an inclusive approach to filling future BOSC appointments and welcome all applicants from all relevant scientific and technical fields.”
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