Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Trump’s Hand-Picked Scientists Rebuke EPA Rollbacks

Science
Traffic seen in Washington, DC in early 2019. Trump's EPA scientific panel criticized rollbacks of Obama-era regulations to reduce car and truck emissions among others. Maria Oswalt / Unsplash

A top science-advisory board staffed with many of the Trump administration's hand-picked appointees rebuked three of Trump's most sweeping rollbacks of environmental regulations as flying in the face of established science, as The New York Times reported.


The Environmental Protection Agency's Scientific Advisory Board, which reviews the scientific integrity of EPA policies, published a draft letter on the last day of 2019. Three of the four draft reports published say the administration's policies run counter to established science. The advisory board, which Congress established in 1978, criticized rollbacks that would weaken regulations over waterways and wetlands, as well as a rollback of Obama-era regulations to reduce car and truck emissions. The board also criticized a change that would restrict the type of scientific studies that can be reviews when drafting health regulations, as The Washington Post reported.

In addressing tailpipe emissions, the draft letter gives a stinging rebuke to the administration's plan. "[T]here are significant weaknesses in the scientific analysis of the proposed rule," the letter says, as CNN reported.

In addressing waterway regulations, the advisory board draft letter says that the Trump administration's actions decrease protections "for our Nation's waters and [do] not support the objective of restoring and maintaining 'the chemical, physical and biological integrity' of these waters," as CNN reported.

It also said the rule "neglects established science" by "failing to acknowledge watershed systems," as The New York Times reported.

The EPA said it "appreciates and respects the work and advice of the" board, as CNN reported.

"The reports they posted are draft and will be discussed at their next meeting," EPA spokeswoman Corry Schiermeyer told CNN. "The final commentary and reports will be developed soon after the public meeting and then sent to the Administrator."

The EPA's decision to release the letters on the last day of the year seemed cagey and suspicious to environmental activists.

"The administration delayed releasing those Science Advisory Board reviews for months, and made them public only today – on New Year's Eve. It's clear that 2019 is ending as it began, with the Trump administration sidelining science and attacking the safeguards that protect American families from pollution," said Vicky Patton, general counsel at the Environmental Defense Fund, in a statement. "EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler must immediately withdraw these unlawful proposals that threaten the health and well-being of all Americans."

Legal scholars also noted that when the administration's handpicked scientists are questioning the policies, it might undermine the White House's arguments in the courts.

"The courts basically say if you're going to ignore the advice of your own experts you have to have really good reasons for that," said Patrick Parenteau, a professor of law with the Vermont Law School, to The New York Times. "And not just policy reasons but reasons that go to the merits of what the critiques are saying."

Stephen Hamburg, chief scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund who served on the advisory board for two terms before stepping down at the end of September, told The Washington Post that it is noteworthy that a board dominated by Trump's handpicked scientists, who have a reputation for backing industry and advocating for loosening regulations, found serious flaws in several Trump's proposals.

"It really calls the question to what degree these suggested changes are fact-based as opposed to politically motivated," said Hamburg.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Earth's atmosphere. NASA

By Jeremy Deaton

You may have heard about the hole in the ozone layer, which hovers over Antarctica. It has shrunk over time thanks to policies that curbed the use of ozone-depleting chemicals. In the nearly 40 years that NASA has kept track, it has never been smaller. That's the good news.

Read More Show Less
Garden interns learn plant and weed identification at the Cheyenne River Youth Project in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. Cheyenne River Youth Project / Facebook

By Stephanie Woodard

Many Americans are now experiencing an erratic food supply for the first time. Among COVID-19's disruptions are bare supermarket shelves and items available yesterday but nowhere to be found today. As you seek ways to replace them, you can look to Native gardens for ideas and inspiration.

Read More Show Less
Although considered safe overall, aloe vera does carry the risk of making some skin rashes worse. serezniy / Getty Images

By Kristeen Cherney

Skin inflammation, which includes swelling and redness, occurs as an immune system reaction. While redness and swelling can develop for a variety of reasons, rashes and burns are perhaps the most common symptoms. More severe skin inflammation can require medications, but sometimes mild rashes may be aided with home remedies like aloe vera.

Read More Show Less
There are plenty of things you can do every day to help reduce greenhouse gases and your carbon footprint to make a less harmful impact on the environment. ipopba / Getty Images

By Katie Lambert and Sarah Gleim

The United Nations suggests that climate change is not just the defining issue of our time, but we are also at a defining moment in history. Weather patterns are changing and will threaten food production, and sea levels are rising and could cause catastrophic flooding across the globe. Countries must make drastic actions to avoid a future with irreversible damage to major ecosystems and planetary climate.

Read More Show Less
Petri Oeschger / Moment / Getty Images

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Sleep is one of the pillars of optimal health.

Read More Show Less

Junjira Konsang / Pixabay

By Matt Casale

For many Americans across the country, staying home to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) means adapting to long-term telework for the first time. We're doing a lot more video conferencing and working out all the kinks that come along with it.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Looking south from New York City's Central Park. Ajay Suresh / Wikipedia / CC BY 4.0

By Richard leBrasseur

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered humans' relationship with natural landscapes in ways that may be long-lasting. One of its most direct effects on people's daily lives is reduced access to public parks.

Read More Show Less