At least five scientists on the EPA's 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors were dismissed Friday, part of the agency's directive under President Trump to tamp down the agency's regulatory powers, per the New York Times. "The administrator believes we should have people on this board who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community," a rep for EPA chief Scott Pruitt says in explaining why the researchers were informed that their three-year contracts aren't being re-upped. "This is political," Dr. Courtney Flint, a natural resource sociology professor at Utah State University, tells the Times. But the spokesman says the agency is not going to "rubber-stamp the last administration's appointees," per the Washington Post. He said industry reps may take their places on the panel.
The board's main task: to examine EPA research used to create agency regulations. Both that board and the larger Science Advisory Board have come under fire from anti-regulation conservatives and industry groups who want more businesspeople in place, with Texas Rep. Lamar Smith claiming scientists have conflicts due to government grants they're showered with. One of the dismissed scientists has coined a new verb for his fate and that of his canned colleagues. "Today, I was Trumped," Michigan State University ecological economist Robert Richardson tweeted Friday. Meanwhile, per the Post, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is "reviewing the charter and charge" of more than 200 boards and other groups that advise the department. (The EPA recently reversed its ban on a pesticide.)