The Trump administration in May began the process of replacing the small army of outside science advisers at the Environmental Protection Agency. In June, 38 additional EPA advisers were notified that their appointments would not be renewed in August. To Mr. Trump’s critics, this is another manifestation of his administration’s “war on science.” Histrionics aside, the administration’s actions are long overdue.
The most prominent of the EPA’s myriad boards of outside advisers are the Science Advisory Board and the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, or CASAC. Mostly made up of university professors, these boards also frequently draw members from consulting firms and activist groups. Only rarely do members have backgrounds in industry. All EPA boards are governed by the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires that they be balanced and unbiased. While the EPA is required by law to convene the SAB and CASAC, the agency is not bound by law to heed their advice.
The EPA’s Obama -era “war on coal” rules and its standards for ground-level ozone—possibly the most expensive EPA rule ever issued—depend on the same scientifically unsupported notion that the fine particles of soot emitted by smokestacks and tailpipes are lethal. The EPA claims that such particles kill hundreds of thousands of Americans annually.