The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) has announced it will review the U.S. EPA’s methods for selecting committee members for the agency’s many science boards and committees amid concerns that corporate influence on the boards and science committees may compromise sound science and potentially squelch necessary scientific inquiry.
The federal watchdog agency’s review was requested by Senate Democrats, Sheldon Whitehouse (D–Rhode Island) and Senator Tom Carper (D-Delaware). The Senators joined environmental advocacy groups that expressed grave concerns following the EPA’s dismissal of twelve scientists from its Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) earlier this year.
The Senate Democrats questioned whether the move was intended to clear the agency boards and committees for the installation of members with strong industry ties.
Senator Whitehouse said he expects the GAO will closely examine and determine whether the EPA is protecting the scientific integrity of its science advisory board and committees.”
Whitehouse commented that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s long-standing ties with the fossil fuel industry inevitably “raise the question of who Pruitt is clearing these seats for.”
The EPA recently opened nominations for potential committee members for the Board of Scientific Counselors and the agency’s Science Advisory Board.
The EPA in a prepared statement emphasized that the agency is seeking qualified candidates for each of the science boards, and the previous service on one or more of the agency panels would not prevent a qualified candidate from serving again.