The New York Times sent alarm bells through environmentalist ranks when it published an article Sunday claiming the Trump administration had ‘dismissed’ at least five academics on a scientific advisory committee.
NYT’s Coral Davenport reported the move is the “latest signal of what critics call a campaign by the Trump administration to shrink the agency’s regulatory reach by reducing the role of academic research.”
Anyone who read NYT’s headline and news lede would have thought the academics were fired — ‘dismissed’ suggests pink slips were handed out. It’s not until 10 paragraphs into Davenport’s story do we find out Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) members serve three-year terms. BOSC members are not entitled to a second three-year term.
But before that, Davenport warn these ‘dismissed’ academics could be replaced with “representatives from industries whose pollution the agency is supposed to regulate,” also mentioning proposed budget cuts and web pages on climate programs that were taken down.
What happened is a little less exciting.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided not to renew three-year terms for five academics appointed by President Barack Obama to sit on the 18-member BOSC, which reviews research done by EPA scientists.
EPA staffers told the academics they would get another three-year term just before President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January. But EPA career staffers misspoke, and the Trump administration had no intention of keeping the Obama holdovers.
EPA wants to open up the process to the hundreds of applicants that were not considered by the Obama administration. An agency spokesman tells NYT as much, though it’s buried about seven paragraphs into the story.
“Advisory panels like BOSC play a critical role reviewing the agency’s work,” EPA spokesman J.P. Freire told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“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,” Freire said.
In fact, the academics who did not get another three year term can reapply for their board positions, but now they’ll have to compete in a larger pool of applicants.
On top of that, BOSC can already include renown experts from industry. EPA’s website says BOSC draws on people from “academia, industry/business, federal, state and local governments, non-governmental and environmental organizations, research laboratories, and other relevant entities.”
Still, the news got environmentalists riled up. Especially, NYT’s implication the open seats would be handed to industry representatives.
— Climate Progress (@climateprogress) May 8, 2017
EPA Dismisses Members of Major Scientific Review Board; Pruitt considering replacing them with industry reps https://t.co/wGRFRelw4i
— Sierra Club (@SierraClub) May 8, 2017
Other media outlets ran with the story as well, hyping up the dismissals.
Greenwire reported as many as 12 BOSC members were not given a second three-year term, according to Greenwire, which claimed these advisers were “fired.” Vox took NYT’s tone of the event, reporting EPA ‘dismissed’ the BOSC advisers.
Davenport did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.
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