Climate change deniers considered for EPA science advisory board


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EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is charged with making the final decision on new Science Advisory Board members. (Gage Skidmore/flickr)
Jenna Ladd| September 19, 2017

Climate change skeptics are among those listed as possible candidates for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board.

The board’s objective is “to provide independent advice and peer review on the scientific and technical aspects of environmental issues to the EPA’s Administrator.” At present, 47 members sit on the board, but service terms will end for 15 members in September. The EPA has published a list of 132 possible candidates to fill these positions, about a dozen of whom have openly rejected widely accepted climate science. One candidate published a report in 2013 outlining the “monetary benefits of rising atmospheric CO2.”

Anyone can nominate anyone else as a candidate for the Science Advisory Board, and the list of nominees has not yet been thinned down by the agency. Staff members at the EPA are responsible fo eliminating a number of the nominees, while ensuring that the remaining candidates have expertise in a wide range of areas (i.e. hydrology, geology, statistics, biology, etc.). However, the final selection of new advisory board members is up to Administrator Scott Pruitt, according to anonymous EPA official.

In a 2016 piece for the National Review, Pruitt wrote that the debate on climate change was “far from settled,” despite more than 97 percent of active scientists agreeing that Earth’s climate is warming due to human activity.

The public is welcome to comment on the list of EPA Science Advisory Board nominees through September 28.

New administration stifles publication of climate change science


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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Haydn Blackey/flickr)
Jenna Ladd | January 26, 2017

Since his inauguration, President Donald Trump has worked to eliminate climate science from the public arena.

Hours after swearing in, the new administration removed climate-related information from the White House website. The only reference to climate change now visible on the site is a promise to throw out “harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan.”

The Trump administration also ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to remove its climate change webpage on Tuesday, according to reports from two anonymous EPA employees. The sources say the page could go down as early as Wednesday. The agency has also been banned from making press releases, writing blog posts and communicating via social media while the Trump administration make its transition into power.

In a recent interview with NPR, Doug Ericksen, the head of communication for the Trump administration’s EPA transition team, said that throughout the transition period, scientists will be subject to an internal vetting process before they can make their conclusions public.

Ericksen said, “We’ll take a look at what’s happening so that the voice coming from the EPA is one that’s going to reflect the new administration.”

He did not say whether the review process would become a permanent hurdle for EPA scientists. Ericksen said, “We’re on day two here…You’ve got to give us a few days to get our feet underneath us.”

Any internal vetting at the EPA directly contradicts its scientific integrity policy. The policy, established in 2012, “Prohibits all EPA employees, including scientists, managers, and other Agency leadership, from suppressing, altering, or otherwise impeding the timely release of scientific findings or conclusions.”

It is not unusual for new administrations to curb public outreach while its agencies adjust to the transition of power but government vetting of scientific work is uncommon.

Andrew Light, a senior fellow in the Global Climate Program at the nonpartisan World Resources Institute, said, “It’s certainly the case that every administration tries to control information, but I think that what we’re seeing here is much more sweeping than has ever been done before.” Light added, “And in particular, it’s noteworthy that it seems to be aimed at a cluster of science-driven agencies that primarily work on the environment and climate change.”

On the Radio: EPA Funding for Diesel Engines


Photo by Mark Sardella; Flickr

This week’s On the Radio segment covers a program by the EPA that aims reduce harmful diesel emissions. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

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Iowans ask for EPA hearing on ethanol in Iowa


Photo by keeva999; Flickr

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa’s governor and the state’s entire congressional delegation are asking the Obama administration to hold a hearing in Iowa to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to reduce ethanol production in 2014.

Iowa is the nation’s leading producer of ethanol, a fuel additive primarily made from corn that produces lower carbon emissions than gasoline. The EPA in November proposed cutting production to 2012 levels, prompting outcry by political leaders from both parties who claimed such a move would devastate Iowa’s economy.

The EPA stated in its November report that the additive had become less necessary in light of fuel-efficient engines and lower fuel demand.

An Iowa State University economist says the economic impact elected officials claim is overstated.

The EPA is taking public comment for 60 days on its recommendation.

“Time is running out on Midwestern Coal”


Photo by Carlyn Ann Crispell; Flickr

Abundant natural gas, cost declines for renewables, and tight regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are slowly killing coal-fired power plants in the U.S. This dynamic is playing out across the country, but the results will be particularly important in the Midwest. Continue reading

On the Radio: Fueling Our Future


Photo by UnitedSoybeanBoard; Flickr

This week’s On the Radio segment covers the new biofuels program recently announced by the governor. Listen to the audio below or continue reading for the transcript.

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Towboat carrying fuel sinks on the Mississippi


Photo by jwinfred; Flickr

A towboat filled with thousands of gallons of diesel fuel struck a submerged object and sank on the Mississippi River on Monday.

The Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency and local emergency crews responded, shutting down an eight-mile stretch of the river near Davenport, Iowa, as the vessel began leaking fuel.

Approximately 89,000 gallons of petroleum are said to be on the sunken vessel.

To learn more, head over to the Huffington Post.