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U.S. EPA sued over science advisers policy

Case claims directive violates federal ethics requirements

by Cheryl Hogue
December 22, 2017

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks at a podium.
Credit: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Groups are mounting a legal challenge to EPA chief Scott Pruitt's recent directive on science advisory panel membership.

Advocacy groups and three academic researchers are asking a federal court to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s new policy barring EPA research grant recipients from agency science advisory panels.

Since EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt unveiled the policy in late October, the agency has booted several academics from its science advisory boards. It added more experts from industry, including the chemicals sector, to those groups.

The case, filed in federal trial court in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 21, claims that Pruitt’s directive violates government ethics requirements and a law that governs federal advisory committees. Pruitt’s order “impairs the ability of the committees to provide expert and balanced advice to the Agency by preventing the participation of highly qualified scientists and medical professionals that receive EPA grants, while allowing persons receiving industry funding to serve,” the suit says.

Bringing the case are Physicians for Society Responsibility, the National Hispanic Medical Association, International Society for Children’s Health & the Environment, and the three academic researchers. The researchers are Joseph Arvai, a professor of sustainable enterprise at the University of Michigan; Edward Lawrence Avol, a professor of medicine at the University of Southern California; and Robyn S. Wilson, a professor of risk analysis and decision science at the Ohio State University. All three are current or past EPA advisers.


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