An update on the power struggle inside the EPA is provided by Ronald Bailey’s May. 9, 2017 article EPA Bureaucracy Strikes Back: The Case of the Board of Scientific Counselors How will the struggle between the permanent bureaucracy and the EPA’s new leadership play out? Excerpts below.
The efforts of the permanent bureaucracy at the Environmental Protection Agency to hand the the new political leadership a fait accompli regarding the membership of that agency’s Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) brought to mind the antics of Yes, Minister. The civil servants at the EPA had apparently assured the members of the BOSC whose three-year terms were ending that they could stay on for another term just as the Obama administration was winding down in January. Since the terms for more than half of the BOSC’s members ran out in late April, the agency bureaucrats essentially went to the new EPA leadership with the old list of Obama administration appointees at the last minute and said, “Sign this.”
The new team appointed by Trump declined to do so. Scorned bureaucrats then leaked the decision to the media shaping the narrative as a Trumpian anti-science “firing” of brave truth-tellers. The Washington Post and the New York Times duly reported just that story. But is it so? “We’re not going to rubber-stamp the last administration’s appointees. Instead, they should participate in the same open competitive process as the rest of the applicant pool,” EPA spokesperson J.P. Freire told the Post. “This approach is what was always intended for the board, and we’re making a clean break with the last administration’s approach.”
Rifling through the Federal Advisory Committee Act database, I find that the terms of 12 members of the BOSC officially expired on April 27, 2017. Another ended in March. Composed of outside researchers, the 18-member BOSC is supposed to provide objective and independent counsel to the agency’s Office of Research and Development (ORD). The committee aids the ORD on research and development with the aim of identifying, understanding, and solving current and future environmental problems; by reviewing ORD’s technical support to EPA’s program and regional offices; by providing leadership in assisting ORD in identifying emerging environmental issues; and by helping to advance the science and technology of risk assessment and risk management.
BOSC members are must be nationally recognized experts in science or engineering. The board should be balanced in disciplines, diversity, and geographic distribution area and include representatives from academia, government, industry, environmental consulting firms, and environmental associations.
As the Membership Balance Plan notes the list of nominees is reviewed by “different levels of EPA managers” before formal letters of invitation are sent out. The Plan notes that “members are usually appointed for a three-year term. Generally, members may be reappointed for a total of 6 years.”
In this case, the EPA bureaucrats in charge of finding and vetting nominees for the BOSC were evidently satisfied with the members who had been appointed during the Obama administration. Spot checking the BOSC’s history, it does appear that in recent years, committee members have generally served two 3-year terms.
EPA spokesperson J.P. Freire released this statement: “Advisory panels like BOSC play a critical role reviewing the agency’s work. EPA received hundreds of nominations to serve on the board, and we want to ensure fair consideration of all the nominees – including those nominated who may have previously served on the panel – and carry out a competitive nomination process.” The EPA plans solicit nominees through the Federal Register and to select new board members quickly. (I reached out to the agency to clear up which and how many BOSC members are not being re-appointed. I have not heard back yet.)
So which members are not being re-appointed? The news reports say that the appointments of up to 9 members are not being renewed. According to the database these 13 members terms are over.
Viney Aneja – North Carolina State University professor of air quality
Shahid Chaudhry – California Energy Commission mechanical engineer
Susan Cozzens – Georgia Tech Sociologist of science
Courtney Flint – Utah State University Natural Resource Sociologist
Earthea Nance – Texas Southern University Civil & Environmental Engineering
Paula Olsiewski – Sloan Foundation Biochemist
Kenneth Reckhow – Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology at Duke University
Robert Richardson – Michiagan State University Ecological Economist
Sandra Smith – Principal Toxicologist AECOM Consultancy
Gina Solomon – California EPA (Former senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council)
Ponisseril Somasundaran- Columbia University Professor of Mineral Engineering
John Thakaran – Howard University Biochemical engineering
Tammy Taylor – Chief Operating Officer of the National Security Directorate at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
The terms of three other members will expire this summer.
Lisa Dilling – University of Colorado biologist
Diane Pataki – University of Utah ecologist
Joseph Rodricks – Principal Arlington of Environ International Corporation toxicologist
Predictably, activists are outraged. “This is completely part of a multifaceted effort to get science out of the way of a deregulation agenda,” said Ken Kimmell, the president of the Union of Concerned Scientists to the Times. Clearly to Kimmel’s mind, science could never support deregulation or declining to regulate.
Cleaning BOSC is only scratching the surface
In addition to these few entitled scientists, there are a raft of others filling the SAB (Scientific Advisory Board) which of course has numerous committees, including the notorious CASAC (Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee). A look at the EPA website shows another 47 scientists working on the taxpayers’ dime. Apparently there are briefings where both BOSC and SAB members participate. The article above does not talk about conflicts of interest, but the EPA has been frequently criticized about the activities of SAB and CASAC.
Senator James A. Inhofe, Chair of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee wrote this in a formal letter to the Obama EPA Director last year:
The new CASAC panel further illustrates EPA’s disregard for policies requiring EPA shift membership on CASAC. Specifically, EPA’s Peer Review Handbook advises membership rotation on standing committees, such as CASAC, “to obtain fresh perspectives and reinforce the reality and perception of independence from the Ageney.”I3 However, the chartered CASAC includes four of seven members that have already served on CASAC.14 Among the three who have not served on the chartered CASAC, two have served on CASAC subcommittees15 while the other one has served on EPA’s Advisory Council on Clean Air Compliance Analysis (Council)16 which is also designed to advise the Administrator on the impacts of the Clean Air Act on the public health, economy, and environment of the U.S.I7 Given the number of well-qualified nominees and thousands of scientific experts across the country, it is deeply concerning EPA continues to select the same people. This practice runs counter to EPA policy and unnecessarily blocks other experts from serving as advisors.
The majority of CASAC members have also received considerable financial support from EPA, which calls into question their independence and therefore the integrity of the overall panel. While EPA has taken the position that receipt of grants do not constitute a financial conflict of interest, the NAS and EPA’s own Peer-Review Handbook state that grants can constitute a conflict or lack of impartiality.I8 For the newly appointed panel this conflict is on full display–six of the seven members have received a total of $119,217,008 in EPA research grants.
Much to my dismay, three of the seven members have received in excess of $25 million each. This is not limited to the chartered CASAC as 22 of the 26 newly appointed members to the CASAC subcommittee on particulate matter have received more than $330 million in EPA grants. These vast sums of money certainly constitute a conflict of interest and at a minimum give the appearance of a lack of impartiality.
Another investigative journalist added:
Among the members of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB), CASAC and subcommittees, 60 percent of them have received research grants from the EPA costing taxpayers more than $140 million. Many are involved in research, funded by those grants, while they are serving on their committees in a role advising the EPA on clean air policy.
CASAC’s chairman, Chris Frey, is also a representative on the SAB. While serving on SAB, the EPA extended his $893,439 grant to study the heath effects of air pollution and approved about $2.9 million in grants to North Carolina State University, where he teaches as a professor of environmental engineering.
All eight members on the EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) have extended, been recipients of or are overseeing more than $19 million in agency grants earmarked to the institutions they work for or directly to themselves, procurement records show. Outside science advisers collect EPA grants while guiding agency
In Ottawa, the problem is somewhat different. There we have an infestation of bureaucrabs. The term refers to a creature that appears to be making progress, but on closer inspection is moving sideways.
There is also a rumor that increasingly in Ottawa lawyers are being used for scientific experiments instead of rats. There appear to be three reasons for this:
- There are more lawyers than rats in Ottawa.
- People sometimes get emotionally attached to a rat.
- There are some things the rats won’t do.
For a scientific analysis of how government works, we have a paper reprinted below:
New chemical Element Discovered
The new element is Governmentium (Gv). It has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312, the heaviest of all. These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lefton-like particles called peons.
Since Governmentium has no electrons or protons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction normally taking less than a second to take from four days to four years to complete.
Governmentium has a normal half-life of 3-6 years. It does not decay but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.
This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.
When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons. All of the money is consumed in the exchange, and no other byproducts are produced. It tends to concentrate at certain points such as government agencies, large corporations, and universities. Usually it can be found in the newest, best appointed, and best maintained buildings.
Scientists point out that administratium is known to be toxic at any level of concentration and can easily destroy any productive reaction where it is allowed to accumulate. Attempts are being made to determine how administratium can be controlled to prevent irreversible damage, but results to date are not promising.
Credit: William DeBuvitz, http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/administ.htm
The article above mentioned Yes Minister classic British tv series, but readers may not be aware that the last season of the show, Yes Prime Minister ended with an hilarious send up of the global warming scare. BBC blocks the video outside of UK, but the best parts of the transcript are at Climate Alarms LOL