EPA Science Board Rebukes Pruitt's Use of Science to Deregulate

(Bloomberg) -- The Environmental Protection Agency’s Scientific Advisory Board delivered a rebuke to Administrator Scott Pruitt by voting Thursday to review the agency’s proposed rollback of car efficiency rules and several other deregulatory actions.

It will scrutinize Pruitt’s move last year to review the Clean Power Plan, the first nationwide attempt to regulate climate pollution from existing power plants and a high-profile target of Pruitt and President Donald Trump.

Other actions it will review include EPA reviews of greenhouse gas rules for new power plants, pollution from renovated or new oil and gas facilities, and a repeal of emissions standards on so-called glider trucks that are retrofitted with rebuilt diesel engines lacking modern emissions controls.

The 44-member panel also unanimously decided to write Pruitt a letter saying it wanted to review his controversial proposal in April to limit the kinds of scientific research the agency can base regulations on.

“The leadership of the board was chosen by Pruitt himself, so their decision today is a sharp rebuke of his leadership and this dangerous proposal,” Ana Unruh Cohen, managing director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in an email after the board’s vote.

“EPA’s Science Advisory Board provides valuable independent expertise that informs and improves EPA’s actions,” Pruitt said in a statement released on Thursday night. “We look forward to the board’s feedback and insight that develop from this meeting.”

Sparring at Meeting

The board is a panel of outside researchers and experts who review the quality of the technical information the EPA relies on, gives advice on broad scientific matters and examines agency research programs.

The body went 50 minutes beyond its slated time, as board members sparred over issues ranging from the need for scientific evidence in demonstrating harm from sooty air pollution, the agency’s multi-step dismantling and replacement of the Clean Power Plan and the EPA’s tinkering with assumptions underlying the way the federal government estimates the damages attributable to each metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.

In a proposal sent Wednesday to the White House Office of Management and Budget, the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration jointly recommended rolling back the automobile efficiency rules established under the Obama administration. It also calls for revoking the waiver from federal standards that California uses to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from vehicle tailpipes, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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