New EPA Administrator Broom Sweeps Clean

08.04.2021 - New US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Michael Regan, sworn in to his office on Mar. 17, has begun removing experts and lobbyists from industry who were appointed by former president Donald Trump to two key advisory panels.

The new EPA chief said he wants to help restore the role of science at the agency and reduce the “heavy influence” of industry. At the same time, however, he said that those losing their roles were welcome to reapply.

Industry representatives on the two panels, including the EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) and Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), were tasked with helping to draft regulations related to air and water pollution, fracking and other crucial issues. Advocates of removing the Trump appointees contended that the former president appointed mainly lobbyists whose positions were more in tune with business than science.

“Resetting these two scientific advisory committees will ensure the agency receives the best possible scientific insight to support our work to protect human health and the environment,” Regan said.

Environmental campaigners said the makeup of the panels needed to be changed in particular as the Trump administration had illegally barred academics who received EPA grants from serving on them. The former administration’s position – which was reversed by a federal court – was that those receiving grants could not be impartial. Critics said that, on the contrary, industry experts were given too much influence. 

Regan is also in the process of reviewing rules implemented by the last administration, some of which were reversals of Obama era clean air and water policies. The new administration additionally has restored an EPA website on climate change taken down shortly after Trump’s inauguration.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist