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Scientists Resign From EPA in Protest

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Scientists Resign From EPA in Protest
Irma Omerhodzic

As reported by POLITICO Pro, scientists resigned Friday from an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advisory panel in protest of Administrator Scott Pruitt's recent decision not to reappoint nine members of the Board of Scientific Counselors, a panel of outside experts that advise EPA on research and development issues.


The New York Times reported these scientists believe that Pruitt's intention is to replace scientists with industry representatives.

Carlos Martin, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute's Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, and Peter B. Meyer, president of the E.P. Systems Group, an environmental analysis firm, have resigned their positions on BOSC's Sustainable and Healthy Communities Subcommittee effective immediately, according to a letter Martin posted to Twitter.

"This is another sign that Trump's administration and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt are engaging in an intentional effort to put decisions about public health and safety in the hands of industry and corporate polluters instead of scientists and doctors," Liz Perera, Sierra Club public health policy director, said.

"The American public supports the role of science in government, and we applaud the honor and integrity of all those who, like these scientists, are resisting the Trump administration's attacks on public health in whatever way they can.

"These scientists are putting their feet down in the face of Trump and Pruitt's complete and total disdain for science, reality and the very foundations of our government. Trump and Pruitt's outrageous attacks on scientific integrity and truth are some of the most extreme indications that this administration is increasingly out of control."

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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