EPA panel seeks to bring back fired scientists for clean-air review

Science | AAAS | 3/29/2019 | Staff
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A fractured EPA advisory panel is asking for help as its ability to handle a high-stakes review of particulate matter standards is under harsh scrutiny.

At a public teleconference yesterday, the seven-member Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee agreed to recommend that EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler reconvene an auxiliary panel of experts he abruptly fired last October—or name a new panel made up of members with similar know-how.

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Assurance - EPA - Chief - Request - Contract

There's no assurance, however, the EPA chief will honor the request. A former contract lobbyist whose clients had included the nation's largest privately owned coal company, Wheeler has given little explanation for his decision to disband the auxiliary panel, which was charged with helping the main committee in its review of the existing national limits on airborne particulate pollution (Greenwire, Oct. 12, 2018).

In an email this afternoon, an EPA spokeswoman said Wheeler will take all of the committee's advice under consideration. Tony Cox, a Denver-based consultant who chairs the committee, said in an email that members have not discussed how to proceed if Wheeler rejects it. Also unclear is whether revival of the auxiliary panel would act as a drag on completing the review by EPA's self-imposed deadline of December 2020.

Committee - Acronym - CASAC - Advice - EPA

The committee, usually known by its acronym of CASAC, is charged with offering independent advice to EPA during the review of the particulate standards, which were last revised in 2012. But its members' fitness to do their jobs again came under biting attack yesterday from former CASAC members and other critics.

"This process is a travesty," Lianne Sheppard, an ex-member who is on the University of Washington's public health faculty, said during one of two sessions allotted for public feedback during the teleconference. Sheppard was one of more than a dozen people...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Science | AAAS
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