Rep. Lamar Smith laid groundwork for Trump EPA science advisers ouster

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Board members are limited to two three-year terms, where experts are typically reappointed for the second term, but the EPA chose to cut their tenures short to one term on this occasion. It's not until 10 paragraphs into Davenport's story do we find out Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) members serve three-year terms.

She added, "The EPA is treating this scientific advisory board like its members are political appointees when these committees are not political positions".

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is recusing himself from lawsuits he was previously involved in as attorney general of Oklahoma, including litigation over the Obama-era Clean Power Plan and Waters of the United States rule.

Pruitt is planning a much broader overhaul of how the agency conducts its scientific analysis, said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

An EPA spokesman told CNBC in a statement that the agency received "hundreds of nominations" to serve on the Board of Scientific Counselors.

An EPA spokesman told the New York Times: "The administrator believes we should have people on this board who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community". "While I have recused myself from making decisions on specific cases, it is my duty and privilege as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to actively engage in rulemaking".

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"We're not going to rubber-stamp the last administration's appointees", Friere told the Washington Post.

But the move came as a surprise to members of the board, who had been informed both in January, before Barack Obama left office, and then more recently by EPA career staff members, that they would be kept on for another term.

The counselors are typically top academic experts in their fields tasked with helping ensure the agency's scientists follow best practices. "This approach is what was always intended for the Board and we're making a clear break with the last administration's approach".

Smith has long vilified the EPA, accusing federal scientists of pushing an "extreme climate agenda". Dropping experts who could challenge the scientific basis for his decisions might sound depressing, but it's wholly consistent with everything else we've seen so far. "These folks were appointed for three-year terms, they're not guaranteed a second three-year term".

Scott Pruitt, who's made no secret of his opposition to the agency he now leads and its environmental mission, apparently has no use for these academicians' guidance.

An EPA spokesperson did not respond to TPM's questions about whether, or how dramatically, Pruitt meant to change the balance of the board to favor industry scientists. The EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act - which has yet to be taken up by the Senate - would prohibit anyone who has an ongoing research grant from the EPA to serve on the board, and prohibits board members from applying for grants for three years after they step down from the panel. This move by the EPA is inserting politics into science.