Attorney General Becerra Calls Out EPA Attempt to Cut Academic Scientists from Advisory Committees

Friday, August 23, 2019
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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today, as part of a multistate coalition, filed an amicus brief in support of plaintiffs in Physicians for Social Responsibility v. Wheeler. In this case, plaintiffs are challenging a directive by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that prohibits any scientist who receives EPA grant money from serving on any EPA advisory committee. In the amicus brief the states assert that the directive hampers California’s ability to protect its residents from environmental harms and would deprive scientists at the University of California conducting research on behalf of the EPA of the opportunity to participate on an EPA advisory committee. That restriction harms both the scientists and EPA.

“We’re calling out EPA’s attempt to purge independent academic scientists from EPA advisory committees and stack the deck with industry-funded representatives,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Advisory boards are strengthened by academic and government scientists who shouldn’t have to sacrifice their funding in order to participate on these committees. We applaud the scientists bringing this case to court. In California, we believe in and proudly support science.”

Advisory committees play an essential role in EPA decision-making, providing the EPA with high-level scientific guidance on both individual regulatory standards and on the EPA's overall direction. The directive undermines the integrity of the EPA decision-making process and threatens to do serious harm to our health and environment. It is forcing many of the best environmental and public health scientists in the country to choose between obtaining valuable EPA funding for their research or serving on high-impact EPA advisory committees. Many academic scientists get funding from EPA for their research and serve on these advisory committees. The EPA wrongly contends that scientists who receive grant funding from the EPA have a conflict of interest and ignores that scientists who receive funding from industry often have a substantial personal and financial interest in the work of EPA advisory committees. As a direct result of the directive, the percentage of industry-backed scientists on these committees has dramatically increased.

A copy of the brief is available here.

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