In a healthy scientific community, dissenting voices and disagreements are often accepted and even encouraged. Under the Biden administration, you could be fired for such attributes.
The new Biden-appointed Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Michael Regan, reportedly purged dozens of “scientists and other experts” put on “key advisory boards” under former President Donald Trump on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
AP Interview: EPA chief Michael Regan vows to restore scientific integrity, moves to ‘reset’ key advisory boards stocked by Trump admin with industry figures https://t.co/V6uWHbQcQ6
— Matthew Daly (@MatthewDalyWDC) March 31, 2021
Rather than in the shadows, as is the norm for these sorts of purges, Regan happily told the AP about his “reset” in an interview, according to the AP. Ironically, the administrator said in the interview that his purge would return the EPA to its “time-honored practice of relying on advice from a balanced group of experts.”
Regan told the AP, “Scientific integrity is a foundational value for EPA. And I am committing to ensuring that every single decision we make meets rigorous scientific standards.”
The administrator is reportedly attempting to restore public confidence in the EPA, and one would think this process would begin with not removing the opposition outright. Regan, however, says. “to do that, we have to identify and root out any decisions from the past that were not properly aligned with science.”
According to the AP, Regan unceremoniously axed 40 members of the Science Advisory Board and the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, which “provide scientific expertise and recommendations for air quality standards and other policies intended to protect public health and the environment.”
Regan seemingly had it out for these people. The administrator took office less than a month ago and already specified in a Wednesday media release that “Resetting these two scientific advisory committees will ensure the agency receives the best possible scientific insight to support our work to protect human health and the environment. Today we return to a time-tested, fair, and transparent process for soliciting membership to these critically important advisory bodies.”
The administrator couldn’t even keep up bipartisan appearances. Regan told the AP that “We set the agenda here, based on the president’s vision, and we are charged with protecting the public health and the environment.”
This purge is seemingly just part of a much larger White House-led investigation into “Trump-era political interference in science across the government.”
The White House Office of Science & Technology Policy tweeted Monday about its new “Scientific Integrity Task Force,” claiming it would deliver “real results based on science, not politics.”
Scientific integrity matters. We’ve seen why it matters, now we need to make it matter. @WHOSTP‘s forward-looking Scientific Integrity Task Force will learn from the past to better serve the American people–delivering real results based on science, not politics. #ScienceIsBack https://t.co/J7D661yW0k
— White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (@WHOSTP) March 29, 2021
If the Biden administration’s displays of bipartisanship thus far are representative of this task force’s policy, though, I wouldn’t be so sure of that statement.
Some, rightfully, have pushed against this move. John Graham, leader of the SAB, reportedly defended his board’s work in an email, saying it has “exposed the scientific shortcomings of the Trump EPA’s plans to weaken greenhouse gas standards for autos and remove numerous water bodies from federal pollution protection,” according to the AP.
In other words, Regan assumes this board can now, thanks to the removal of experts, do the work it had already been doing throughout the Trump administration.
Graham was reportedly “saddened” by Regan’s “radical action,” and frankly, he’s absolutely right to be.
Regardless of the political affiliation of the board members Regan decided were either unnecessary or too politically charged to make science-backed decisions, these people were already fighting for the “scientific integrity” the administrator wants to see the return of.
It’s self-sabotage, and unfortunately, it’s once again a case that will likely end up hurting the American people far worse than Biden’s approval rating.
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