On Monday, the Washington Post reports that EPA head Scott Pruitt was behind the dismissal of half of the members of the agency's Board of Science Counselors.
Scientists on the board said they were told during the Obama administration that their terms would be renewed, as they normally were for at least a second term.
The Board of Scientific Counselors advises the EPA on the quality and accuracy of the science it produces, but it was confirmed on Monday (8 May) that nine of its 18 members' terms would not be renewed.
In March, the Post reported on a proposal to gut the budget for the 47-member Science Advisory Board, which similarly reviews agency science.
Replacements for the five academic scientists could come in the form of representatives from industries whose pollution the EPA is supposed to regulate.
On 5 May 2017, Michigan State University environmental economist Robert Richardson tweeted that his appointment on the Environmental Protection Agency's Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) was terminated, stating that the news was both unusual and surprising.
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Friere, however, said the decision to replace some members of the Board of Scientific Counselors - who were notified of the decision on Friday - was simply meant to broaden the pool of advisors and, he told the New York Times, to "take as inclusive an approach to regulation as possible".
The Trump administration also has called for deep cuts at the EPA, reducing its overall budget by almost a third, at the same time the administration has moved to reverse or slow some of the agency's regulatory decisions.
Those dismissed from the 18-member board told the newspaper that they received an email on Friday telling them that their contracts had expired and would not be removed.
EPA wants to open up the process to the hundreds of applicants that were not considered by the Obama administration.
"We're not going to rubber-stamp the last administration's appointees", Freire told the Washington Post. "This approach is what was always intended for the Board, and we're making a clean break with the last administration's approach".
It is primarily made up of academic scientists and other experts who review EPA's research to ensure that the regulations the agency undertakes have a sound scientific basis. "Members of the board say they have reviewed the EPA's scientific research on the public health impact of leaking underground fuel tanks, the toxicity of the chemicals used to clean up oil spills, and the effects of the spread of bark beetles caused by a warming climate", the Times writes. The EPA has plenty of scientists who conduct research and publish their findings. The individuals on these boards are appointed based on scientific expertise not politics. While the move has outraged some environmentalists, it seems completely in line with Pruitt's longstanding goal of curtailing the EPA's regulatory power from within.