EPA headquarters. Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

By Umair Irfan 
27 October 2017

(Vox) – Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, is taking unprecedented steps to push scientists out of his office.

Earlier this month, we learned via the Washington Post that Pruitt may soon be removing science advisers on advisory boards who have received grants from the EPA. “If we have individuals who are on those boards, sometimes receiving money from the agency … that to me causes questions on the independence and the veracity and the transparency of those recommendations that are coming our way,” he said at a Heritage Foundation meeting.

The move would be another step in Pruitt’s efforts to drastically whittle down EPA’s work as an environmental regulator, as Vox’s David Roberts outlined this summer.

Pruitt has met almost exclusively with fossil fuel interests while freezing out his agency’s own scientists from reviewing regulatory rollbacks. He’s also started laying the groundwork to challenge EPA’s own legal authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

Pruitt has described this as a “Back-to-Basics Agenda,” but environmental advocates read it as a process to undermine basic air and water protections for the benefit of industry.

And EPA is doing most of this in secret, with Pruitt going as far as to build a $25,000 secret phone booth at the agency’s headquarters (a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, in government-speak).

Now Pruitt is fishing for pretenses to push out scientists that review the EPA’s work. An EPA official said the agency expects to make a formal announcement on the scientific advisory boards on October 31. [more]

EPA to its scientists: go away or be quiet

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