October 31, 2017
EPA’s Advisory Panel Announcement Robs Americans of a Critical Resource
Posted by Jenna Zink
In a disappointing move this afternoon, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt confirmed his plan to disallow EPA grantees from serving on scientific advisory panels. This blocks highly qualified scientists – now and in the future – from serving on boards and committees, undermining the ability of the EPA to fulfill its purpose to ensure “that all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn, and work.”
This announcement comes in conjunction with the appointment of 20 new members to two key advisory panels; the Science Advisory Board and the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee. CASAC is focused on air quality and standards as directed by the Clean Air Act, while SAB is charged with ensuring the quality of science across the agency.
Pruitt’s new policy asserts that panel members who receive EPA grant funding for their research could have a conflict of interest, thus coloring the advice they give. AGU takes strong issue with the assertion that the independence, transparency, and objectivity of the scientists who receive federal grants is compromised. Science has one agenda: to advance the body of scientific knowledge. The principles and practices that protect the integrity of science are well defined through the scientific method and the peer-review process. All federal grant recipients must pass a thorough merit review, proving their high standards in professionalism and ethics. Further, all EPA grant applicants must formally declare that there is no conflict of interest posed by receiving such awards.
EPA’s decisions have real implications for the health and well-being of Americans and in some cases people worldwide. By curtailing the input of some of the most respected minds in science, Pruitt’s decision robs the agency – and by extension – Americans – of a critically important resource.
To accomplish its mission, it is imperative that the EPA receive the best available scientific counsel, which must include expert scientists drawn from industry, academia, NGOs, and government – an exchange between these groups is the best way to move forward and protect safety, health and security
Editor’s note: If you’d like to write the EPA with your concerns, we’ve made it easy to send a letter from our Policy Action Center.
“AGU takes strong issue with the assertion that the independence, transparency, and objectivity of the scientists who receive federal grants is compromised.”
I’ll believe that statement as soon as you also say that grants from oil companies don’t compromise the integrity of scientists doing climate change research. Look, scientists are not perfect angelic beings. Conflicts of interest will create temptations to perform corrupt practices. I think I’ll have to side with Scott Pruitt on this one. Unless all climate scientists are funded by the EPA, then there will still be qualified scientists who can serve on the advisory panels.
Thanks for your comments. Scientists who receive federal grants already have to go through a conflict of interest review. While there will still be scientists available to serve on panels, the new policy would be removing some of those scientists who have the most knowledge and would be the most qualified. We are concerned that scientists who get federal grants are being inherently labeled as biased.
Why is this rule installed? What is the purpose of blocking scientists from certain important platforms.
If there’s a fear that scientists are providing biased advice then take a look at the unfounded denials of climate change.
I don’t say that everything should be believed what climate scientists say. I do say that it is the task of politicians to translate science to societal relevant action.
I conclude that Trumps administration fails completely at this point. I conclude that the incompetence behind all this shows itself, as usual, in repression.
I had the hope that under this administration the debate really would commence between scientists. I agree that a debate is always necessary. Consensus is always to be distrusted. Agreed wholeheartedly.
Instead, repression replaces argument.
It is trying to make people blind. That is unforgivably wicked.