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9 AGs Object to Pruitt's Removal of Independent Scientists from Advisory Committees

The EPA directive continues to arbitrarily and capriciously allow industry-funded scientists to remain on EPA advisory committees 

June 28, 2018
Contact: Christopher Gray

Washington, D.C. - Yesterday, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson led a coalition of nine Attorneys General objecting to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's directive that bars independent scientific experts affiliated with universities from serving on EPA advisory committees if their institutions receive EPA grants, while continuing to welcome participation by industry-funded scientists.

The nine Attorneys General filed an amicus brief in support of plaintiffs in Physicians for Social Responsibility, et al. v. E. Scott Pruitt, objecting to the arbitrary and capricious line-drawing used by EPA to exclude independent scientific experts from serving on advisory committees under Congressionally-authorized science advisory committees. "The advisory committee Directive has already caused dozens of uniquely qualified scientists to be removed from their posts on EPA advisory boards and committees, while leaving in place (and even increasing) persons affiliated with regulated industries," said the Attorneys General in their brief. "Industry-funded or even industry- employed members of the Science Advisory Board thus have risen from comprising 40 percent of Board members to now comprising nearly 70 percent."

"EPA's directive unlawfully favors industry-sponsored representatives over independent academic scientists," said David J. Hayes, Executive Director of the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center. "Stacking the deck in this way is a cynical ploy to sideline independent scientific experts who have been objecting, on scientific grounds, to Administration rollbacks of long-standing environmental, health and safety protections. Once again, we must look to the courts to redress this wrong."

California, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection joined Washington in filing the brief.


In October 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt released a directive that prohibits scientists and experts who are recipients of EPA grants from serving on EPA federal advisory committees (FACs). Excluding leading scientists and experts from serving on FACs will deprive EPA of the scientifically sound and balanced guidance that it has received for decades from FACs. 

In December 2017, Physicians for Social Responsibility, two other medical organizations, and three individual scientists affected by the directive, filed suit against EPA challenging the lawfulness of the directive as arbitrary and capricious contrary to the statutes establishing EPA advisory committees. The next month, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Natural Resources Defense Council in separate suits also challenged the lawfulness of the directive.

Since January 2017, state attorneys general have taken over 100 actions to advance and defend progressive clean energy, climate and environmental laws and policies. View all actions on the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center's website.

The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center is a non-partisan Center at the NYU School of Law that is dedicated to helping state attorneys general fight against regulatory rollbacks and advance clean energy, climate change, and environmental values and protections. It was launched in August 2017 with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. For more information, visit http://www.law.nyu.edu/centers/state-impact.