The Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt commented on Tuesday the days of “political science” are over at the agency, while announcing a new conflict of interest policy that prevents the individuals sitting on EPA scientific boards from receiving anymore grants from the agency.
Under the last three years of the Obama administration, members who sat on just three of the agency’s scientific advisory boards received a total of $77 million in EPA grants. Pruitt said that the individuals advising in policy and regulatory matters should be completely independent of the EPA.
“These federal advisory committees are very, very important to agencies and how they conduct their business in the rulemaking process,” Pruitt said.
“The EPA grants, we control that and we think it sends important things to the American people that we’re not going to have $77 million in grants going to a certain number of advisers at the same time they are advising about the efficacy of the rules that we’re adopting across the whole spectrum of the agency,” he added. “Whatever science that we’re involved in at the EPA should not be political science.”
The directive would go into effect immediately.
The EPA is finalizing the appointments to the three of its scientific advisory boards: Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC), the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), and the Science Advisory Board.
Earlier this same year the agency had broadened its own application process, soliciting applications from underrepresented states.
Pruitt said that the large geographic areas like the Midwest have not been represented on the advisory boards. For instance, no members were present from the West Virginia, Montana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, North Dakota, Nebraska, and other states.
The new pool of appointments, which would be announced in the coming week, would include members from EPA regions 6, 7, and 8. Those regions, which covers Dallas, Kansas City, and Denver, and previously did not include even a single representative on CASAC.
Pruitt also said that the current members who are asked to continue their service and have received EPA grants would have to forgo the grant funding if they choose stay on the board.
“You can choose service on the committee or choose the grant, you can’t do both,” Pruitt said. “And that’s the fair thing to the American people.”
The EPA would continue its ethics review for all the members appointed to the advisory boards, which addresses the conflict of interest on whether applicants have received funding from the third parties or the industry.