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Nine Major EPA Employees Let Go By Pruitt

| by Shani Shahmoon

On Saturday, a member of the Environmental Protection Agency's Board of Scientific Counselors reportedly tweeted, "Today, I was Trumped."

Robert Richardson, along with eight other scientists on the BSC, was let go over the weekend as part of a major haul by the administration to reframe the EPA and its mission, The Washington Post reported.

Scott Pruitt was appointed EPA administrator under the Trump administration. Prior to this new title, Pruitt was an attorney general in Oklahoma and had sued the EPA several times for its pollution regulations. He claimed that the science produced by the EPA was biased, The Guardian explains.

"We are returning to using sound science in decision-making, rather than predetermined results," Pruitt said.

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BSC is an 18-member board of scientific experts which produces scientific reviews that then are used to guide the EPA in creating regulations. The members are appointed for a three-year term, and after their first term, are often renewed for a second.

The nine members of BSC who lost their titles were concluding their first term, and were told in January that their positions were in the process of being renewed, The Atlantic reported. But on May 5, they received an email explaining that their renewal was rejected and that their time on the BSC had come to an end. The EPA is reportedly on a hiring freeze while they review other applicants.

An EPA spokesperson said in a statement to The Guardian, "EPA received hundreds of nominations to serve on the board, and we want to ensure fair consideration of all the nominees -- including those nominated who may have previously served on the panel -- and carry out a competitive nomination process."

"The administrator believes we should have people on this board who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community," a spokesperson added in another interview.

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Many conservatives have spoken out against the EPA for its implicit bias.

Lamar Smith, chairman of the House science committee, said in February: "The EPA routinely stacks this board with friendly scientists who receive millions of dollars in grants from the federal government. The conflict of interest here is clear."

Current and past BSC members have spoken out against the claims that they are political tools for liberal administrations.

"It’s a very apolitical board. We never discussed politics. We never discussed regulations or proposed regulations. It’s just reacting to science outputs and giving recommendations," said Richardson, who was just let go from the BSC, but is also an environmental economist at Michigan State University.

John O’Grady, president of a union that represents over 9,000 EPA employees, said that under the Trump administration, he fears that the agency will be "repopulated with scientists who operate within the realm of opinion, rather than fact."

"However, opinions are neither fact nor theory and do not belong to the realm of science," he added.

Sources: The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Washington Post / Photo credit: Lorie Shaull/Flickr

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