Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
EPA ignores warnings from Trump's handpicked scientists to push for more pollution
The EPA is defending its decision to reverse regulations designed to reduce contamination, against its own advisers.
Scientific advisers installed by the Trump administration are slamming plans by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to roll back regulations designed to reduce pollution and contamination.
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that draft reports released online by the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board harshly criticize Donald Trump’s efforts.
Referencing the EPA plan to reverse limits on the type of dredging or pesticide applications that can be used near wetlands and streams, the advisory board says the EPA proposal “neglects established science.”
Another report calls the models used by the Trump administration to justify lowering car mileage targets “implausible” and calls out “important weaknesses” in the administration’s reasoning.
The board also called out the EPA’s decision to exclude scientific studies from decision making if raw data behind those studies was withheld. The board said such a decision was “inconsistent with the scientific method” and that releasing raw data could compromise privacy and confidentiality agreements.
Attempts to exclude scientific studies in the past have been criticized as an effort to placate big industry.
Corry Schiermeyer, a spokeswoman for the EPA, defended the lax regulations in a comment to CNN. She claimed that the water regulations comply with a recent Supreme Court decision on the extent of the government’s power to address such issues.
Schiermeyer also told the outlet that the automobile regulations ridiculed by the advisory board would “save lives and reduce the cost of a new car, while creating jobs across our nation.”
The board’s criticism is noteworthy given that they come from a body the Trump administration has stacked with individuals traditionally inclined to support a hands-off regulatory approach.
A report in July 2019 from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) faulted the Trump administration for disregarding federal ethics requirements when it replaced academic members of its advisory boards with pro-industry members.
“This report shows that the Trump administration rigged influential advisory boards to favor its polluter backers,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) noted in a press release at the time.
The current makeup of the advisory board has far fewer academics than it did under President Barack Obama and the boards cited in the report had 40% fewer meetings than under the previous administration.
Despite this lean, the draft reports show concerns being raised about the scientific rigor of the Trump-era EPA.
That has been an ongoing issue for the EPA since Trump assumed the presidency.
An internal EPA memo leaked in 2018 showed the agency instructing staffers to cast doubt on the scientific consensus about climate change. Additionally, the administration disbanded EPA panels studying air pollution which provided critical data on climate changes.
Under Trump, criminal prosecutions for polluters have fallen to the lowest levels since the George H.W. Bush administration.
Energy producers have even noted that the Trump administration has rolled back emission rules for substances like methane even after the industry asked them not to do it.
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