AP Interview: EPA head removes Trump-era science advisers

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2021 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.

FILE - In this Feb. 3, 2021, file photo, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Regan, speaks during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Reganis taking steps to restore what he calls scientific integrity at the EPA. And one way Regan is trying to do that is by reversing Trump administration actions that sidelined many academic scientists as advisers in favor of industry figures.(Caroline Brehman/Pool via AP)

WASHINGTON – In a move he said would help restore “scientific integrity,” the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency is removing dozens of scientists and other experts from key advisory boards named under President Donald Trump, saying they were overly friendly to industry.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan, in an Associated Press interview, said the “reset” of the Science Advisory Board and Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee will return EPA to its time-honored practice of relying on advice from a balanced group of experts. He is clearing out the two important panels, although current members can apply for reinstatement.

“Scientific integrity is a foundational value for EPA,'' Regan said. “And I am committing to ensuring that every single decision we make meets rigorous scientific standards.’’

Restoring public confidence in the EPA is a top goal, Regan said. “And I think to do that, we have to identify and root out any decisions from the past that were not properly aligned with science,'' he said.

Regan has repeatedly said “science is back." He said that “is very true," but added that "underpinning that is the importance of scientific integrity and transparency here at the agency. The actions we’re taking are indicative of how serious we are about repairing the scientific integrity at EPA.''

Regan, 44, was North Carolina’s top environmental regulator for four years. At the EPA, he is helping to lead President Joe Biden’s efforts to address climate change and advocate for environmental justice. Regan is the first Black man to run the EPA.

The overhaul announced Wednesday ousts more than 40 members of the two science advisory boards, including some whose terms do not expire this year. Members can apply to keep serving, but must compete against other candidates. Regan will make final selections, expected within months.

The panels provide scientific expertise and recommendations for air quality standards and other policies intended to protect public health and the environment.