Carper, Whitehouse Blast Pruitt’s Unprecedented Move to Exclude Qualified Scientists from EPA Advisory Committees

Absent any answers from the agency, lawmakers have initiated a GAO review of EPA’s dismissal of scientific advisers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Work Committee, and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) decried Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s announcement that EPA would begin to exclude scientists who have received EPA funding from the agency’s nonpartisan scientific advisory committees. According to reports, Mr. Pruitt plans to replace long-serving scientists with Republican state officials and representatives from the fossil fuel and chemical industries.

In July, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) accepted a request from Senators Carper and Whitehouse to review EPA’s process for selecting federal advisory committee members after EPA abruptly dismissed scientists from more than a dozen advisory positions. Senator Carper’s original letter to the agency on this issue from May remains unanswered.

“Scott Pruitt’s latest move to reject qualified scientists to make room for industry-sponsored individuals isn’t fooling anyone. Since he arrived at the agency, Mr. Pruitt has repeatedly worked to silence EPA scientists, deny the facts and discredit science inconvenient to his agenda; now he’s trying to get rid of agency access to scientific advice altogether,” said Senator Carper. “Let’s be clear: EPA research grants and advisory roles should be awarded to the most qualified and most capable candidates. Period. EPA’s continued efforts to delegitimize the work of nonpartisan scientists doesn’t just offend the long tradition of this science-based agency. This crusade endangers the health of every American, and it cannot be tolerated.”

“Scott Pruitt’s battle against science continues.  He’s trying to restock the EPA’s science panels with industry hacks; hacks who fill their days churning out phony, made-to-order science for big polluters. Cranking in ‘scientists’ who think smog isn’t so dangerous, or believe protecting our water is ‘glaring federal overreach,’ is another part of the Pruitt plan for wholesale industry capture of the EPA,” said Senator Whitehouse.

The EPA is home to 23 scientific advisory committees, which advise the agency on environmental science, public health, safety, and other subjects central to the EPA’s work. Federal law requires the committees to remain balanced in the viewpoints they represent and functions they perform.