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Administrator Pruitt Issues Directive to Ensure Independence, Geographic Diversity & Integrity in EPA Science Committees

10/31/2017
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON (October 31, 2017) – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a new directive today to ensure that any advisors serving on an EPA Federal Advisory Committee (FAC) are independent and free from any real, apparent, or potential interference with their ability to objectively serve as a committee member.  

“Whatever science comes out of EPA, shouldn’t be political science,” said Administrator Pruitt. “From this day forward, EPA advisory committee members will be financially independent from the Agency.” 

The directive explains that:  members shall be independent from EPA, which shall include a requirement that no member of any of EPA’s federal advisory committees be currently in receipt of EPA grants, either as principal investigator or co-investigator, or in a position that otherwise would reap substantial direct benefit from an EPA grant. This principle would not apply to state, tribal or local government agency recipients of EPA grants. An accompanying memorandum issued by EPA Administrator Pruitt explains the directives to improve the independence and integrity of EPA’s FACs in ways that advance the Agency’s mission. 

According to EPA calculations, in just the last three years, members of three of EPA’s 22 FACs – the Science Advisory Board (SAB), Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) and the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) – received upwards of $77 million in direct EPA grant funding while concurrently serving on these committees.

Today, Administrator Pruitt also announced his plan to appoint new leadership and new members to SAB, CASAC and BOSC. In the spirit of cooperative federalism, Administrator Pruitt intends to appoint members that will significantly increase geographic diversity and state, tribal, and local government participation on the committees.  A list of members will be posted in coming days. 

The directive focuses on the importance of the following areas pertaining to EPA FACs: 

  1. Strengthen Member Independence:  Members shall be independent from EPA, which shall include a requirement that no member of an EPA federal advisory committee be currently in receipt of EPA grants, either as principal investigator or co-investigator, or in a position that otherwise would reap substantial direct benefit from an EPA grant. This principle shall not apply to state, tribal or local government agency recipients of EPA grants.
     
  2. Increase State, Tribal and Local Government Participation:  In the spirit of cooperative federalism and recognition of the unique experience of state, tribal and local government officials, committee balance should reflect prominent participation from state, tribal and local governments. Such participation should be appropriate for the committee’s purpose and function.
     
  3. Enhance Geographic Diversity:  Given the range of environmental and public health considerations across the country, membership should be balanced with individuals from different states and EPA regions. Emphasis should be given to individuals from historically unrepresented or underrepresented states and regions.
     
  4. Promote Fresh Perspectives:  To encourage and promote the inclusion of new candidates with fresh perspectives and to avoid prolonged and continuous service, membership should be rotated regularly.

“Strengthening independence from EPA, increasing state, tribal and local government participation, and adding geographic diversity and fresh perspectives will improve the integrity of EPA’s scientific advisory committees,” said EPA Administrator Pruitt

To read the full directive please visit here.

To read the full memo please visit here.