West Virginia attorney general urges EPA to explain ‘purge’ of Trump-appointed science advisers

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The Environmental Protection Agency’s abrupt firing of more than 40 outside science advisers has raised serious concerns that the Biden administration is politicizing policy-making, according to West Virginia’s top law enforcement official.

Patrick Morrisey, the state’s Republican attorney general, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan on Wednesday seeking an explanation for the dismissals.

“Extraordinary actions require extraordinary explanations — and comprehensive purges of the Agency‘s scientific advisors are unprecedented in modern memory,” the attorney general wrote.

Earlier this month, Mr. Regan surprised many by dismissing 40 outside science consultants from two of his agency’s high-profile advisory panels.

The removals targeted individuals appointed to the EPA’s Science Advisory Board and its Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee by former President Donald Trump.

Both panels have significant sway in promulgating environmental regulations by deciding which information and data the EPA uses for such decisions. The Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, in particular, plays a large role in determining regulations on air quality and pollution.

Mr. Regan has argued the firings were needed because the Trump administration stacked the panels with energy executives and other individuals friendly to the fossil fuel industry.

When announcing dismissals, the EPA administrator claimed it presented a return to a “time-tested, fair, and transparent process.”

Mr. Morrisey, however, disagrees with the administration’s characterization of the panels under Mr. Trump.

“Because of their objective and technical nature, these boards are often unmoved by the political waves of a new party winning the White House,” the attorney general wrote. “This customary continuity meant that many of the purged SAB members were initially appointed under President Obama and re-appointed under President Trump.”

Given the panels’ influence on policy-making, Mr. Morrisey said the EPA‘s “aggressive and wholesale restructuring threatens to politicize” the agency‘s work.

“In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever that [both panels] remain free of political influence,” the attorney general wrote. “Pressure cannot be allowed to steer the Agency away from comprehensive, objective, and scientific assessment of both the problem and the proposed solutions.”

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