Continuing its adversarial relationship with science in general, the Trump administration plans to quietly—the news has not yet officially been made public—eliminate the office that advises the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on scientific matters, an anonymous source told the New York Times yesterday. The Office of the Science Advisor had previously been a senior position, created in order to provide the head of the EPA with sound, neutral advice about the scientific research that underpins the agency’s health and environmental regulations.
As the New York Times noted yesterday, September 27, “The move is the latest among several steps taken by the Trump administration that appear to have diminished the role of scientific research in policymaking while the administration pursues an agenda of rolling back regulations.” (President Trump left the position of White House science adviser vacant for 19 months, a fact noted in a Times’ article of June 9: “In the Trump administration, science is unwelcome. So is advice.”)
The changes come as the agency’s acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler (a former coal lobbyist), is overseeing an Orwellian “reorganization” of the EPA.
“It’s certainly a pretty big demotion, a pretty big burying of this office,” Michael Helpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the newspaper. “Everything from research on chemicals and health, to peer-review testing, to data-analysis would inevitably suffer.”