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Trump's EPA dismisses half of the scientists on its advisory board

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, shown speaking to employees of the EPA in Washington on Feb. 21, has long been a critic of the agency he now leads. (Susan Walsh / Associated Press)
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, shown speaking to employees of the EPA in Washington on Feb. 21, has long been a critic of the agency he now leads. (Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

The Trump administration will not reappoint half the expert members of a board that advises the Environmental Protection Agency on the integrity of its science, the latest in a series of moves that could benefit industries whose pollution the government regulates. 

Deborah L. Swackhamer, chairwoman of the Board of Scientific Counselors, confirmed Monday that nine of the 18 outside experts on her panel will not serve a second three-year term. The affected board members' terms expired April 30. 

Experts are limited to serving two terms on the board, and Swackhamer said that in the past those completing their first term would typically have been reappointed. Four other board members just completed their second terms, meaning 13 of the 18 seats on the panel are vacant. 

EPA spokesman J.P. Freire said the agency's new leadership wants to consider a wider array of applicants, potentially including those who may work for chemical and fossil fuel companies. 

“We are going to look at all applicants that come in, because this is an open and competitive process,” Freire said. 

The counselors are typically top academic experts in their fields tasked with helping ensure the agency's scientists follow best practices. 

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has long been a fierce critic of the agency he now leads, saying its scientists often fail to weigh the cost of implementing new regulations on businesses. Pruitt, a lawyer who previously served as Oklahoma's elected attorney general, has moved in recent weeks to roll back Obama-era limits on toxic pollution from coal-fired power plants and countermand a push to ban a pesticide that peer-reviewed studies said may harm the developing brains of young children. 

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