EPA administrator Scott Pruitt invokes the 'Joshua Principle' to remove scientists from EPA advisory boards, 31 October 2017. Graphic: Patheos

By Zahra Hirji
31 October 2017

(BuzzFeed News) – The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Tuesday afternoon sweeping changes to who can advise the agency on its research and regulatory priorities, opening the door to more industry participation.

Effective immediately, scientists who receive EPA funding cannot serve on the agency's three major advisory groups. Some Republican lawmakers have been pushing for similar changes to the agency's advisory boards for years.

"We want to ensure that there’s integrity in the process and that the scientists that are advising us are doing so without any type of appearance of conflict of interest," EPA head Scott Pruitt said at a press conference announcing the directive.

Pruitt used a story from the Book of Joshua to help explain the new policy.

On the journey to the promised land, "Joshua says to the people of Israel: choose this day whom you are going to serve," Pruitt said. "This is sort of like the Joshua principle — that as it relates to grants from this agency, you are going to have to choose either service on the committee to provide counsel to us in an independent fashion or chose the grant. But you can’t do both. That’s the fair and great thing to do."

A large coalition of science organizations, science advocates, environmentalists, and politicians lined up in fierce opposition to the policy changes, arguing the rules not only disqualify top environmental and health researchers from advising but also favor scientists paid for by EPA-regulated companies. They also have pointed out that EPA has strict rules in place for disclosing any conflicts of interest.

"Frankly, this directive is nuts," Al Teich of George Washington University wrote in an email to BuzzFeed News.

"There is an important role for citizen advisors who are not experts in a scientific field and who represent various constituencies on advisory committees," wrote Teich, a research professor of science, technology, and international affairs. "But they should complement, not replace the experts. Disqualifying the very people who know the most about a subject from serving as advisors makes no sense." [more]

Citing The Bible, The EPA Just Changed Its Rules For Science Advisers


By Michael Stone
1 November 2017

(Patheos) – Biblical war on science: EPA chief Scott Pruitt uses the Bible to justify new rule preventing university scientists from serving on key advisory boards.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is using the Bible’s Book of Joshua to prevent “hundreds of expert scientists working in environmental and health fields at universities from serving on the (agency’s advisory) boards”. […]

Democrats and environmentalists condemned the new directive. Sen. Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said:

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 the scientists altogether.

In a statement, Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), also denounced the new rule, declaring:

Leading scientific experts who are conducting environmental science research should not be prohibited from participating on EPA science adviser boards and committees if they have met the appropriate financial conflict of interest policy. Science and the use of science in evidence-based policymaking cannot thrive when policymakers use politics as a pretext to attack scientific objectivity. Given its desire to limit expert perspectives and the role of scientific information, we question whether the EPA can continue to pursue its core mission to protect human health and the environment.

However, not everybody was appalled at the new, Biblically driven, anti-science, directive. Leading climate change deniers like Republican Senator James Inhofe and Republican House Science Chairman Lamar Smith were pleased with the new rule. [more]

EPA Chief Cites Bible To Justify Removing Scientists From Advisory Boards

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