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U.S. policy outlook for 2018

Scarce Science

January 15, 2018 | Volume 96 Issue 3

Scarce science under the Trump administration

Examining policies that will affect the U.S. chemistry enterprise in 2018


This time last year, as now-President Donald J. Trump prepared to take the oath of office and join a Republican-led Congress to govern the U.S., observers predicted budget cuts, regulatory rollbacks, and tax reform.

The jury is still out on the budget, with negotiations ongoing. Meanwhile, Trump did not disappoint on the regulatory front. On Jan. 30, 2017, Trump ordered federal agencies to offset the cost of any new regulation by eliminating two existing regulations. Officials who oversee chemical use and environmental standards are now well on their way to easing the regulatory burden on businesses. And a tax reform law enacted last month includes a number of provisions sought by the business community.

Science and technology, however, have largely taken a back seat when it comes to federal appointments and policy initiatives, and that pattern is expected to continue in 2018. Bright spots for science and technology funding include implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act for medical research and Trump’s promised infrastructure program.

Intellectual property

Process for challenging patent validity scrutinized

By Glenn Hess
Credit: Arthur Lien
Arguing that an administrative process to challenge patents is unconstitutional, Allyson N. Ho represented Oil States Energy Services before the Supreme Court on Nov. 27, 2017.

The Supreme Court is considering whether a streamlined system created by Congress in 2011 for challenging the validity of patents violates the U.S. Constitution. The court is expected to rule by the end of June on a case that technology companies and the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries are watching closely.

Specifically, the justices are weighing whether the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s administrative adjudicatory body—the Patent Trial & Appeal Board—can toss out patents after they’ve been granted or if that can be done only by a federal court.

Since the streamlined administrative process was established, some 7,600 petitions have been filed. In 1,800 final decisions, the appeals board revoked all or part of a patent in about 80% of the cases. The standard for revoking a patent is lower in the administrative proceeding than in federal court.

Silicon Valley companies say the administrative appeals process is a quicker and less expensive way to settle patent disputes than litigation. High-technology firms have frequently used the procedure to challenge the validity of patents that they are alleged to have infringed.

In contrast, drugmakers, who rely on strong patent protections to attract investment, say the system is unfair. They see the appeal board as a threat to innovation because it makes it too easy for a government agency to cancel their valuable patent rights.

In briefs filed with justices, AbbVie, Allergan, Celgene, and industry trade groups argue that patents create constitutionally protected property rights that belong to the inventor and may be revoked only by a federal court and jury. The case is Oil States Energy Services LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group LLC.


Hazardous waste sites prioritized for faster cleanup

By Cheryl Hogue
Credit: Kqueirolomce/Wikipedia Creative Commons
The West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, Mo., shown here in 2014, is among the hazardous waste sites targeted for intense attention for cleanup.

Cleanup of complex hazardous waste sites, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency oversees through its Superfund program, may accelerate in 2018 from a historically glacial pace.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt puts a high priority on hazardous waste cleanups, seemingly higher than the regulation of chemicals and control of air and water pollution control. “There is nothing more core to the Agency’s mission than revitalizing contaminated land,” Pruitt said in July. He wants to get contaminated sites quickly redeveloped or otherwise reused.

Sites that fall under the jurisdiction of EPA’s Superfund program often involve mixtures of wastes, hard-to-remediate contamination such as groundwater pollution, and litigation over cleanup plans or liability. Sites can languish for years to decades awaiting final cleanup.

In December 2017, Pruitt targeted 21 Superfund sites across the U.S. for “immediate, intense attention.” EPA plans to get parties who are potentially responsible for the pollution or third parties, such as investors in commercial development, to pick up the tab for final cleanup. There will be “no commitment of additional funding” from EPA for this effort, the agency says.

Top Republicans on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, however, question “whether the potential stigma of being included on a list ... with no additional funding, will help or hinder the progress at these sites” in a letter to Pruitt.

The 21 places on Pruitt’s list include three former chemical plants in New Jersey: American Cyanamid, a site where chemicals and pharmaceuticals were manufactured that is now owned by Pfizer; Diamond Alkali, which made pesticides including DDT and Vietnam War-era defoliant Agent Orange; and Ventron/Velsicol, which processed mercury for 45 years. Other former chemical production sites on the list are in Kentucky and Rhode Island.

Also on the list for expedited action is the West Lake Landfill site in Bridgeton, Mo., which includes a former limestone quarry and adjacent areas used to dispose of nearly 8,000 metric tons of leached barium sulfate from the Manhattan Project as well as municipal trash, industrial waste, and construction debris.

Climate change

Power plant emission rule headed for repeal, possible replacement

By Cheryl Hogue
Credit: Western Farmers Electric Cooperative
EPA is considering a possible replacement of a regulation to curb CO2 emissions from coal-fired-power-generating facilities, including the Hugo plant in agency chief Pruitt's home state of Oklahoma.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt this year is moving to repeal and possibly replace a climate change regulation he attacked in his previous position as attorney general of Oklahoma.

Called the Clean Power Plan, the 2015 regulation requires existing fossil-fuel-burning power plants to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide. It was the Obama administration’s flagship policy to combat climate change, and EPA estimated it would cut the power sector’s emissions of CO2 some 32% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Before he was nominated to lead EPA, Pruitt led a legal challenge by 27 states against the Clean Power Plan. In October 2017, Pruitt unveiled plans to repeal the Clean Power Plan in response to President Donald J. Trump’s executive order promoting U.S. energy independence. Under Trump and Pruitt, EPA now argues that the regulation improperly requires power companies to increase use of renewable energy, notably solar and wind. Instead, EPA says, it should focus only on actions that plants can take individually, such as improving efficiency.

In December 2017, EPA sought feedback on a draft proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan with a rule that would allow each state to set CO2emission standards for individual power plants while taking into consideration costs and opportunities within the state for reducing emissions. This idea is similar to one that Pruitt put forth in 2014 while serving as attorney general of Oklahoma.

Meanwhile, some right-wing groups are lobbying Pruitt to overturn the pivotal policy that led the agency to issue the Clean Power Plan. That was EPA’s 2009 determination that emissions of CO2 and five other types of greenhouse gases—methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride—endanger public health and welfare.

Implementation of the Clean Power Plan was the primary way in which the U.S. would meet its commitment under the 2015 Paris accord to combat climate change. In June, Trump announced that he is withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement.

Chemical regulation

Debate heats up over prioritizing substances for risk evaluation

By Britt E. Erickson

Implementation of the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) will continue to be a top priority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2018. The law was overhauled in 2016, giving EPA new authorities to ensure the safety of chemicals in the U.S. market. But under the Trump administration, EPA is setting a course to ignore those authorities, allowing new chemicals to enter the market with little or no toxicity data.

For chemicals that are already on the market, EPA faces a December 2019 deadline under the revised law to evaluate the potential risks of 10 substances that were selected by the agency in late 2016. If EPA finds any risks associated with use of the substances, it must take steps to minimize the risk within two years of completing the evaluation. When EPA completes an evaluation, it must begin another one for a different chemical. By the end of 2019, the agency must have at least another 20 chemical risk assessments ongoing.

Under the Obama administration, EPA proposed to ban certain uses of three of the 10 substances—trichloroethylene, methylene chloride, and N-methylpyrrolidone. But the Trump administration put those proposals on hold in December 2017. The agency now considers the proposed bans “long-term actions,” and has given no indication as to when they will be finalized. The chemical industry is urging EPA to reevaluate the risks of the chemicals under the new TSCA.

The agency is also likely to change its procedures for prioritizing chemicals for evaluation going forward. EPA is considering various approaches, including grouping chemicals by their function to quickly weed out large numbers of low-priority chemicals with similar uses. Environmental groups, however, would prefer EPA to focus on high-priority chemicals and seek missing toxicity data now in order to meet statutory deadlines down the road. For their part, chemical manufacturers are expected to continue pushing back on EPA requests for toxicity data.

Additionally, in 2018 EPA is expected to finalize a rule to collect fees from chemical manufacturers to help pay for chemical risk evaluations. Environmental groups are hoping the agency will also meet a requirement under the revised TSCA to make clear how it evaluates requests to keep proprietary information confidential, which effectively keeps chemical identities from the public.

First 10

Chemicals EPA is evaluating under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act.

Asbestos Chlorine production; formerly fireproofing and insulation Mesothelioma, lung cancer
1-Bromopropane Degreasing, dry cleaning, adhesion Developmental toxicity, lung cancer
Carbon tetrachloride Synthesis of fluorinated and chlorinated compounds, also found in degreasing and cleaning agents, adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings, rubber, cement, and asphalt formulations Liver and kidney toxicity, liver cancer
1,4-Dioxane Byproduct of ethoxylation to produce surfactants found in cosmetics and household cleaners Liver, nasal, lung, and breast cancer
Methylene chloride Paint and coating removal Reduced breathing, heart rate, and brain activity; liver toxicity; neurotoxicity
N-Methylpyrrolidone Substitute for chlorinated solvents, paint removal Liver, kidney, immune system, reproductive, developmental, and central nervous system toxicity
Tetrachloroethylene Synthesis of fluorinated compounds, dry cleaning, degreasing Liver, kidney, reproductive, developmental, and central nervous system toxicity
Trichloroethylene Dry cleaning, degreasing Kidney, liver, and lymphoid tissue cancer
1,2,5,6,9,10- Hexabromocyclododecane and mixed isomers Flame retardants Liver, immune system, reproductive, developmental, central nervous system, and thyroid toxicity
Pigment Violet 29 Pigment in paints, coatings, plastics, rubbers, and inks Oral and inhalation acute toxicity, eye and skin irritation, reproductive and developmental toxicity

Note: EPA released documents for each of the 10 substances in June 2017, identifying what uses will be evaluated and how the evaluations will be performed. EPA plans to refine the scope of those evaluations in 2018 with input from stakeholders.


Feud over worker safety rule ensnares pesticide fees

By Britt E. Erickson
Credit: Keith Weller
The Trump administration is considering rolling back an Obama-era rule that aims to better protect workers who spray certain pesticides.

Debate is ongoing over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s agricultural worker protection standard, a rule established in 2015 that calls for stricter certification requirements to ensure the safety of workers who spray restricted-use pesticides. EPA is considering rollbacks to the rule as part of the Trump administration’s order to identify regulations that can be “repealed, replaced, or modified to make them less burdensome.”

EPA has already delayed the effective date of the rule by one year, until May 2018. Agricultural industry groups, some state regulators, and the Department of Agriculture claim the rule is overly burdensome and too expensive for the agricultural community.

Environmental groups and some lawmakers in the Senate, however, are unhappy about EPA’s plan to weaken the rule. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) has placed an indefinite hold on a bill (H.R. 1029) to reauthorize EPA’s ability to collect fees from the pesticide industry. Those fees make up about 30% of the funding of EPA’s pesticide office. EPA’s authorization to collect such fees expired at the end of fiscal 2017, but it has been further extended by a continuing resolution through Jan. 19. Udall plans to keep blocking the reauthorization bill until EPA reverts to fully implementing the worker protection standard as written in 2015.

Food ingredients

Controversy continues over labeling genetically modified food

By Britt E. Erickson
Credit: Shutterstock
USDA may allow the use of QR codes instead of on-package text to inform consumers that food contains genetically modified ingredients.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is facing a July 2018 deadline to finalize a rule for labeling foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard was enacted in July 2016 and mandates that USDA establish a standard and procedures for labeling genetically modified foods within two years. USDA has yet to decide what type of labeling to require. Congress gave USDA the option of considering alternatives to on-package text, such as the use of QR codes and toll-free phone numbers. Food safety advocates argue that such alternatives should not replace clear, on-package labeling, claiming that other options are burdensome to consumers and inaccessible to those who don’t have smartphones and high-speed internet access.


Scientific community rethinks how to advocate for its priorities in the Trump era

By Andrea Widener
Credit: Natalie Hudson-Smith
Graduate students protested proposed taxes on tuition waivers at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, in November 2017.

The first year of the Donald J. Trump administration wasn’t a smooth one for science supporters.

It started with surprise limits on immigration to the U.S. from some countries, a move that many scientists saw as dangerous to scientific openness. The year continued with significant proposed budget cuts for most of the major science research agencies, as well as attacks on peer review and support for universities’ administrative costs.

The White House’s appointments to major science positions haven’t helped the situation (see chart, page 29). Many new leaders of key research agencies have neither a science background nor science connections. And the administration still hasn’t made any major appointments to the U.S. Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP)—including the director, who would normally serve as the president’s science adviser.

This situation has forced many organizations to change tack in their science advocacy efforts. “It has really rallied the scientific community to step up their advocacy on different levels in different ways,” says Suzanne Ffolkes, vice president of communications at the advocacy group Research!America.

In the past, many groups used OSTP as a conduit to the White House. “It is rough for science” not to have a White House champion to help explain the value of science to the country and the economy, says Jennifer Poulakidas, vice president for congressional and governmental affairs at the Association of Public & Land-grant Universities. Others question whether even a fully staffed OSTP would carry any weight with the administration.

The lack of support in the White House means the American Chemical Society and other groups are spending more time working directly with federal agencies or with legislators who are interested in science issues. “You work with Congress to deflect some of the big hits that are coming at you,” such as by demonstrating the value of research funding, says Anthony Pitagno, ACS’s director of government affairs. ACS’s goal for 2018 is to take that even further. “We want to get out of reaction mode and start working proactively” on issues such as a dedicated helium source for researchers and identifying sources for critical materials, he says.

A newfound willingness of more scientists and members of the science-supporting public to also speak out, through activities like the March for Science, should make it easier to convince legislators of the value of science. The show of support “was an affirmation of how many people do respect and value science,” says Joanne Carney, director of the Office of Government Relations at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

That public support translated into action on issues like keeping graduate student tuition waivers tax-free in the recent tax reform bill. “It was a win, and we hope to see more wins,” Ffolkes says.

In Congress, the Chemistry Caucus, which begins its third year in 2018, “will continue its educational focus to help members understand the importance of chemistry in the daily lives of all Americans,” says David Russell, spokesperson for caucus cochair Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Mich.).

The Congressional Chemistry Caucus has yet to support any specific legislation because nothing has fit the bipartisan nature of the group, says Joel Creswell, who works on the caucus for its other cochair, Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.). “I think it could probably happen if the right opportunity arose,” Creswell says.

Creswell notes that despite a political environment that isn’t science friendly, Lipinski has found ways to accomplish science policy objectives by working across the aisle. Those efforts included advocating for the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program to promote entrepreneurship and the Department of Energy’s Energy Innovation Hubs.

Bipartisan support for science is going to be especially important for advocates hoping to improve research funding, which is currently constrained under budget caps known as sequestration. The White House proposed even greater cuts to science in its 2018 budget. Those cuts were largely rejected by legislators from both parties, but the administration is likely to try again.

Overall, science interests in Congress will probably be overshadowed by major policy initiatives such as reform of Social Security and other entitlement programs, though one potential bright spot is the Trump administration’s promised infrastructure plan. “There are certainly elements there that could have science and technology components,” Carney says. Initiatives on cybersecurity and the opioid epidemic could also include R&D funding.

In the end, what science groups might need to prepare for most is the unexpected, Poulakidas points out. In the beginning of 2017, “We would not have been able to predict everything that we dealt with.”


21st Century Cures Act programs roll out

By Ryan Cross
Credit: Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press
NIH's Collins (left) and FDA's Gottlieb also appeared together on Oct. 5, 2017, at a hearing about the opioid crisis.

In December 2016, President Barack Obama signed a landmark bill that tasked the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to speed up its review process of drugs and medical devices without diminishing its standards for assessing a treatment’s safety and effectiveness. Known as the 21st Century Cures Act, the law approved $6.3 billion in funding across 10 years, the majority designated for medical research.

The law, for which the pharmaceutical industry lobbied heavily, garnered wide bipartisan support—only five senators and 26 representatives voted against it. Just over one year later, eyes are fixed on FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to see how he implements the FDA portion of the law.

Gottlieb called the Cures Act a “defining element” of his policy planning during a Nov. 30, 2017, hearing before the House Energy & Commerce Committee. In his testimony, Gottlieb hinted that the agency was considering ways to approve some drugs with “intermediate clinical end points,” a term he said FDA is working to better define. Drugmakers would then be required to complete clinical trials after a drug enters the marketplace, and FDA could rescind marketing approval if a product failed to live up to its anticipated benefits. Other initiatives include modernizing clinical trial design and creating standards for regenerative medicines such as stem cell therapies.

FDA, however, gets only $500 million of Cures Act funding. State governments will receive $1 billion to fight the opioid epidemic, and the remaining $4.8 billion goes to the National Institutes of Health.

NIH is using its share of Cures Act money to advance several flagship initiatives, said Director Francis Collins, who appeared alongside Gottlieb at the House hearing. One is the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot, aimed at improving cancer prevention, detection, and treatment. Another is the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) program, which is funding projects to create maps of neural circuits and new tools for studying the brain. A third Cures Act beneficiary is NIH’s Precision Medicine Initiative, now known as the All of Us Research Program, which will begin this spring to sequence the genomes and extensively monitor the health of 1 million Americans.


A ‘war on lead’ may be on the horizon

By Michael Torrice
Credit: Associated Press
Over the past several years, schools across the country, including Creston Elementary School in Portland, Ore., have closed drinking fountains because of lead concerns.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will have lead in drinking water on its radar in 2018, according to Administrator Scott Pruitt.

At a hearing for the Environment Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee on Dec. 7, 2017, Pruitt described lead in drinking water as “one of the greatest environmental threats we face as a country.” He went on to suggest that the agency is working on an ambitious 10-year strategy to “declare a war on lead.”

One aspect of the strategy Pruitt hinted at was an update to the Lead & Copper Rule, an EPA regulation that sets limits on the concentrations of lead and copper in drinking water. In December, EPA sent letters to state environmental protection agencies to request feedback on ways to revise the rule.

Pruitt also discussed the possibility of replacing lead service lines that carry drinking water. These service lines were the source of the lead contamination in Flint, Mich., after the city changed its water source in 2014. Pruitt acknowledged that replacing service pipes could be costly but wondered if such projects could be included in a future infrastructure spending plan.

In 2011, EPA evaluated data on the effectiveness of partial replacement of lead service lines—replacing just the pipes that water utilities own and leaving ones belonging to individual property owners—and concluded that it wasn’t clear if the practice reduced lead levels. On the contrary, some studies suggest that partial replacement can temporarily increase lead levels.

In his testimony, Pruitt also briefly mentioned other lead-related areas under evaluation by EPA, including corrosion controls to prevent lead leaching from service lines and regulations on lead paint. Last month, a federal appeals court gave EPA until the end of 2018 to set a new standard for the amount of lead deemed hazardous in paint and dust.

Trump administration appointments

Many key science positions remain unfilled nearly one year in.

Agency Position Nominated Senate Confirmed Background
Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Y Georgia governor and state senator. D.V.M., University of Georgia.
Department of Agriculture Under secretary for food safety
Department of Agriculture Under secretary for natural resources and environment
Department of Agriculture Under secretary for research, education, and economics (commonly known as chief scientist) (Initial nominee Samuel Clovis Jr.—fighter pilot, defense contractor, and conservative radio host—withdrew after he was linked to the investigation of Trump campaign ties to Russia.)
Chemical Safety Board & Hazard Investigation Board Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland Continuing five-year term from Obama administration Chief counsel for the Department of Transportation's Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. In-house counsel for Digex, Philip Morris, and Altria. B.A., political science and art history, Drew University; J.D. and M.B.A., American University.
Chemical Safety Board & Hazard Investigation Board Board member
Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Y Investment banker known for purchasing failed companies and later selling them for a profit. A.B., English, Yale College; M.B.A., Harvard Business School.
Department of Commerce Under secretary for intellectual property and director of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Andrei Iancu Litigation and intellectual property attorney. B.S., aerospace engineering, M.S., mechanical engineering, and J.D., University of California, Los Angeles.
Department of Commerce Under secretary for oceans and atmosphere and administrator of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Barry Lee Myers* CEO of AccuWeather, which was founded by his brother. Former professor of business at Pennsylvania State University. B.S., business administration and economics, Pennsylvania State University; J.D., Boston University.
Department of Commerce Under secretary for standards and technology and director of the National Institute of Standards & Technology Walter Copan Y CEO of Intellectual Property Engineering Group. Formerly worked in technology transfer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory. Also worked at Clean Diesel Technologies and Lubrizol. B.S., chemistry, B.A., music, and Ph.D., chemistry, Case Western Reserve University.
Department of Commerce Assistant secretary for environmental observation and prediction Neil Jacobs Chief atmospheric scientist at Panasonic Avionics. B.S., mathematics and physics, University of South Carolina; M.S., air-sea interaction, and Ph.D., numerical modeling, North Carolina State University.
Department of Commerce Assistant secretary for oceans and atmosphere Timothy Gallaudet Y Navy oceanographer who served for 32 years and reached the rank of rear admiral. Commander of the Naval Meteorology & Oceanography Command. B.S., oceanography, Naval Academy; M.S. and Ph.D., oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Department of Defense Secretary James Mattis Y Served in the Marine Corps for 42 years, rising to the rank of general. B.A., history, Central Washington University; M.A., international security affairs, National War College.
Department of Defense Under secretary for research and engineering Michael Griffin* CEO of Schafer. Administrator of the National Aeronautics & Space Administration under President George W. Bush. Worked earlier at NASA as well as In-Q-Tel and Orbital Sciences. B.S., physics, Johns Hopkins University; master's degrees in aerospace science, electrical engineering, applied physics, civil engineering, and business administration from multiple schools; Ph.D., aerospace engineering, University of Maryland.
Department of Defense Assistant secretary for nuclear, chemical, and biological defense programs Guy B. Roberts Y National security consultant. Former deputy assistant secretary general for weapons of mass destruction policy and director of the Nuclear Policy Planning Directorate for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Served in the Marine Corps for 25 years in legal positions. B.A., political science, Arizona State University; master's degrees in international and comparative law, international relations, and strategic studies from multiple schools; J.D., University of Denver.
Department of Defense Assistant secretary for energy, installations, and environment Lucian Niemeyer Y National defense consultant. Previously served as a staff member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services. Served in the Air Force for 15 years. Bachelor of architecture, University of Notre Dame; M.B.A., George Washington University; M.A., national security and strategic studies, Naval War College.
Department of Defense Assistant secretary for research and engineering
Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry Y Governor of Texas. Texas state representative and agriculture commissioner. Cotton farmer. B.S., animal science, Texas A&M University.
Department of Energy Under secretary of energy Mark Menezes Y Vice president of federal relations at Berkshire Hathaway Energy. Attorney specializing in energy matters. Previously served on House Committee on Energy & Commerce. B.A. and J.D., Louisiana State University.
Department of Energy Under secretary for science Paul Dabbar Y Led energy sector mergers and acquisitions at J.P. Morgan. B.S., marine engineering, Naval Academy; M.B.A., Columbia University.
Department of Energy Assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy
Department of Energy Assistant secretary for environmental management Anne White Consultant on nuclear regulatory issues, waste management, and environmental restoration. B.S., mathematics, University of Kansas; M.S., nuclear engineering, University of Missouri, Columbia.
Department of Energy Assistant secretary for fossil energy Steven Winberg Y Program manager at Battelle Memorial Institute. Vice president for R&D at Consol Energy. Also worked for Foster Wheeler and Consolidated Natural Gas. B.S., nuclear science, State University of Maritime College; M.B.A., University of Pittsburgh.
Department of Energy Assistant secretary for nuclear energy
Department of Energy Director of the office of science
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt Y Oklahoma attorney general and state senator. As attorney general, repeatedly sued EPA. B.A., political science and communications, Georgetown College; J.D. University of Tulsa.
Environmental Protection Agency Assistant administrator for water David Ross Y Wisconsin assistant attorney general and director of the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Environmental Protection Unit. Attorney focusing on environment, energy, and natural resources. B.A., international relations, University of Wisconsin, Madison; J.D. and master of environmental law and policy, Vermont Law School.
Environmental Protection Agency Assistant administrator for air and radiation William Wehrum Y Attorney specializing in air quality issues. Previously served in EPA under President George W. Bush. B.S., chemical engineering, Purdue University; J.D., Widener University.
Environmental Protection Agency Assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention (Initial nominee Michael Dourson withdrew amid growing concerns about his ties to the chemical industry.)
Environmental Protection Agency Assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance Susan Bodine Y Chief counsel for U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works. Attorney focused on environmental law. Previously served in EPA and on House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure. A.B., history, Princeton University; J.D., University of Pennsylvania.
Environmental Protection Agency Assistant administrator for environmental information
Environmental Protection Agency Assistant administrator for research and development
Environmental Protection Agency Assistant administrator for solid waste and emergency response
Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar* Led Eli Lilly & Co.'s U.S. operations. Previously served in the Department of Health & Human Services as deputy secretary and general counsel. B.A., government and economics, Dartmouth College; J.D., Yale University. (Azar would replace Tom Price, who resigned for use of noncommercial planes for government travel.)
Department of Health & Human Services Commissioner of Food & Drug Administration Scott Gottlieb Y Partner focused on health care and medical devices at venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates. Resident fellow at conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute. Previously served as FDA deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs and in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. B.A., economics, Wesleyan University; M.D., Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Department of Health & Human Services Director of the National Institutes of Health Francis Collins Continuing from Obama administration Led the National Human Genome Research Institute. Professor of internal medicine and human genetics at the University of Michigan. B.S., chemistry, University of Virginia; Ph.D., chemistry, Yale University; M.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Department of Health & Human Services Director of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Brenda Fitzgerald Not required Commissioner of Georgia's Department of Public Health. Worked in private practice as an obstetrician-gynecologist. B.S., microbiology, Georgia State University; M.D., Emory University.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen Y National security consultant. Served on President George W. Bush's homeland security council and worked at the Transportation Security Administration. B.S., Georgetown University; J.D., University of Virginia. (Nielsen replaced John Kelly after he resigned to become Trump's chief of staff.)
Department of Homeland Security Under secretary for science and technology
Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Y U.S. senator for Montana, before which he was Montana state senator. Served as a Navy SEAL for 23 years, reaching the rank of commander. B.S., geology, University of Oregon; M.B.A., National University; M.S., global leadership, University of San Diego.
Department of the Interior Assistant secretary for land and minerals management Joseph Balash Y Chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska. Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. Also held staff positions in the Alaska governor's office and state legislature. B.A., government and politics, Pacific University.
Department of the Interior Assistant secretary for water and science Timothy Petty Y Deputy legislative director for U.S. Sen. James Risch of Idaho, a member of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources. Served in the Department of Interior under President George W. Bush. Also served in staff positions for U.S. senators from Florida and Pennsylvania. B.S., geosciences, Purdue University; M.S., executive international business management, University of Maryland University College; Ph.D., water and science policy, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
Department of the Interior Director of U.S. Geological Survey
Department of Justice Attorney general Jeff Sessions Y U.S. senator for Alabama, Alabama attorney general, and U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama. Served in the Army Reserve for 13 years, reaching the rank of captain. B.A., history, Huntingdon College; J.D., University of Alabama.
Department of Justice Administrator of Drug Enforcement Administration
Department of Justice Deputy administrator of Drug Enforcement Administration
Department of Justice Assistant attorney general of the environment and natural resources division Jeffrey Bossert Clark* Litigator specializing in environmental and administrative law. Previously served as deputy assistant attorney general for the same division. A.B., economics and history, Harvard University; M.A., urban affairs and public policy, University of Delaware; J.D., Georgetown University.
Department of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta Y Dean of Florida International University College of Law. Formerly served in three Senate-confirmed positions: member of the National Labor Relations Board, assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, and U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida. A.B., economics, and J.D., Harvard University. (Initial nominee Andrew Puzder withdrew after concerns emerged about his business record and personal life.)
Department of Labor Assistant secretary for occupational safety and health and administrator of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration Scott A. Mugno* Worked at FedEx since 1994, starting as an attorney and moving up to vice president for safety, sustainability, and vehicle maintenance for FedEx Ground. B.S., criminal justice, St. John's University; J.D., Washburn University School of Law.
Department of Labor Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics William Beach* Vice president for policy research at the Mercatus Center, an economics research center at George Mason University. Previously served as the chief economist for the Republican staff of the Senate Budget Committee and as director of the Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis. B.A, history and economics, Washburn University; M.A., history and economics, University of Missouri, Columbia; Ph.D., economics, Buckingham University.
National Aeronautics & Space Administration Administrator James Bridenstine* U.S. congressman from Oklahoma. Executive director of the Tulsa Air & Space Museum & Planetarium. Served in the Navy and Navy Reserve, reaching the rank of lieutenant commander. B.A., economics, psychology, and business, Rice University; M.B.A., Cornell University.
National Aeronautics & Space Administration Deputy administrator
National Science Foundation Director France Córdova Continuing six-year term from Obama administration President of Purdue University, chancellor of the University of California, Riverside, and vice chancellor for research at the University of California, Riverside. Professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Pennsylvania State University. NASA chief scientist. B.A., English, Stanford University; Ph.D., physics, California Institute of Technology.
Office of Science & Technology Policy Director
Office of Science & Technology Policy Associate director for environment
Office of Science & Technology Policy Associate director for science
Office of Science & Technology Policy Associate director for technology
Office of Science & Technology Policy Associate director for national security and international affairs
Department of State Secretary Rex Tillerson Y Began his career as a production engineer at Exxon and rose through the ranks to become CEO of ExxonMobil. B.S., civil engineering, University of Texas, Austin.
Department of State Under secretary for economic growth, energy, and environment
Department of State Assistant secretary for energy resources
Department of State Assistant secretary for oceans and international, environmental, and scientific affairs
Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao Y Fellow at conservative think tank the Hudson Institute. Served as secretary of labor under President George W. Bush. President and CEO of United Way of America. Also worked in the Department of Transportation under George H. W. Bush, as well as BankAmerica and Citicorp. B.A., economics, Mount Holyoke College; M.B.A., Harvard University.
Department of Transportation Assistant secretary for research and technology Diana Furchtgott-Roth* Director of Economics21, the economics arm of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. Formerly chief economist of the Department of Labor under George W. Bush. Also served Presidents George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan in various roles. B.A., economics, Swarthmore College; M.Phil., economics, Oxford University.
Department of Transportation Administrator of Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration Howard (Skip) Elliott Y Vice president of public safety, health, environment, and security at rail services company CSX Transportation. B.A., English and forensic studies, Indiana University; M.S., criminal justice administration, Columbia Southern University.

*Nomination returned to the White House at the end of calendar 2017, as required if the Senate does not unanimously agree to roll over unconfirmed nominations. Trump may renominate the same candidate or choose someone else.
Note: As of Jan. 7, 2018.
Sources: Washington Post and Partnership for Public Service, federal government websites, other media organizations, and LinkedIn pages.