Protesting the Trump administration’s “continued obfuscation of scientific evidence and the research enterprise,” two scientists resigned Friday from an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advisory subcommittee focused on public health and pollution.
Specifically, Drs. Carlos Martín and Peter Meyer cited the EPA’s recent decision to not renew the terms of Drs. Courtney Flint and Robert Richardson on the agency’s Board of Scientific Counselors. News outlets reported this week that the EPA was considering replacing up to a dozen such scientists with representatives of the very industries the agency is tasked with policing.
Board members Flint and Richard were co-chairs of the Sustainable and Healthy Communities Subcommittee, on which Martin and Meyer both served. The subcommittee “looked at how to improve environmental health of communities and how to best clean up waste,” according to E & E News.
“It has been an honor to serve with them, and a shock to witness the refusal of EPA officials to renew their positions. It is a shock from which we cannot easily recover nor which we readily accept,” Martín and Meyer said in a letter the former posted in full to Twitter early Friday.
— Carlos Martín (@carlosonhousing) May 12, 2017
Martín is a senior research associate at the Urban Institute’s Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, while Meyer is president of the E.P. Systems Group, an environmental analysis firm. Other members of the subcommittee include urban planning and environmental health experts from University of California, Berkeley; Ohio State University; the Minnesota Department of Health; and the Morehouse School of Medicine. Flint is a professor of natural resource sociology at Utah State University and Richardson is an environmental economist at Michigan State University.
The letter said Flint and Richardson’s removal “suggests that our collective knowledge is not valued by the current EPA administrators. Like so many of our colleagues in the broader research community, we have deep concerns about the leadership at EPA and its continued obfuscation of scientific evidence and the research enterprise.”
Since President Donald Trump took office, his administration and GOP allies in Congress have installed a fossil fuel champion as head of the EPA; proposed deep budget cuts to programs dealing with the environment and climate change; and waged a war on science marked by undoing key Obama-era regulations and attempting to scrub key data from government websites.
“We believe that any replacements to Drs. Flint and Richardson that may be brought on under these circumstances will similarly devalue our work,” the letter continued. “[W]e cannot in good conscience be complicit in our co-chairs’ removal, or in the watering down of credible science, engineering, and methodological rigor that is at the heart of that decision.”
Meyer also told Motherboard that “More of our members are mulling over whether to resign at this point.”
Sierra Club Public health policy director Liz Perera said the EPA’s decision not to reappoint Flint, Richardson, and other members of the Board of Scientific Counselors was further evidence that the Trump administration is “engaging in an intentional effort to put decisions about public health and safety in the hands of industry and corporate polluters instead of scientists and doctors.”
She painted Martín and Meyer’s resignations—effective immediately—as part of a national resistance movement that saw, most notably, back-to-back weekend demonstrations in support of science and climate action.
“These scientists are putting their feet down in the face of Trump and [EPA Administrator Scott] Pruitt’s complete and total disdain for science, reality, and the very foundations of our government,” Perera said. “Trump and Pruitt’s outrageous attacks on scientific integrity and truth are some of the most extreme indications that this administration is increasingly out of control.”