On Tuesday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia upheld a Trump-era EPA rule that disqualifies scientists in receipt of grants from the EPA from holding any advisory position in the agency.
During the Obama administration, many scientists given those highly coveted advisory positions were also being paid rather handsomely with EPA grant money. Former EPA head Scott Pruitt announced the new rule in 2017.
The rule requires that “no member of an EPA federal advisory committee be currently in receipt of EPA grants.”
The rule was made in an effort to roll back the Obama administration’s practice of stacking EPA advisory committees with scientists sympathetic to Obama’s “war on coal.” The fight against committee stacking predates the Trump administration. It was first brought into the open more than eight years ago by Steve Milloy, the Energy and Environment (E&E) Legal Institute’s senior policy fellow and a member of Trump’s EPA transition team. In May of 2016, Milloy and E&E Legal sued the Obama administration over the issue, saying, “The EPA has stacked the panel, which is required by law to be independent and unbiased, with researchers who have received over $190 million in discretionary grants from the EPA. This clearly violates the law and makes a mockery of the notion of ‘independent scientific review,’”
Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee, ruled that the EPA had wide discretion in naming advisory board members. In his decision, McFadden wrote that the rules in question, “do not dictate whom administrators must, or even should, appoint to federal advisory committees.”
McFadden noted that ethics laws do allow grant recipients to sit on advisory boards, but that is different from mandating that they become members.
“Yesterday’s U.S. District court Decision was a great step in restoring integrity to the critically important role that the scientific advisory committees play in formulating and promulgating environmental policy,” Milloy said. “Given the unlimited resources of the Left, however, this issue is far from settled, and we can expect future court challenges before it is etched in stone.”
Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), a group heavily funded by George Soros and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, brought the suit, contending that the rule excluding certain scientists was “arbitrary and capricious, conflicts with several statutes and regulations governing advisory committees, and is a shift in policy that the EPA failed to explain.”
Barbara Gottlieb, director of the environment and health program at PSR, was obviously disappointed with the ruling. “This is an unfortunate decision. By depriving the EPA and the American people of top-quality scientific advice, it weakens the decisions the EPA makes, which means less protection for public health,” she said in a statement.
While this victory should be celebrated, the war is far from over. The Trump administration and the EPA are likely to face dozens of lawsuits over the coming year over rollbacks of Obama-era environmental policy. The lawsuits will likely begin in earnest in March when acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler releases the final version of the EPA’s Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule, a joint effort with the Department of Transportation, which is expected to roll back fuel-efficiency and greenhouse-gas regulations through 2026. The new rule is expected to freeze regulations in 2021, effectively canceling out more-stringent regulations moving forward.
Most of this uproar from environmentalists has to do with — you guessed it — the globalist climate-change agenda. Green warriors will not be happy until all fossil fuels are done away with.
As E&E Legal President Craig Richardson points out, “Organizations led by Soros and the Rockefeller heirs have a long history of using front groups like PSR to push ‘global warming’ and now ‘climate change’ to eradicate fossil fuels in America, thereby killing our economy, destroying jobs and sending countless poor and elderly into ‘energy poverty.’”
The fact that these front groups can oppose a rule that attempts to end blatant conflicts of interests such as what occurred under the Obama administration’s EPA shows how desperate they are to push leftist globalist policies that can be seen most succinctly in the recent Green New Deal.
It’s also good to remember that when the media says that lawsuits such as these are brought by a group called Physicians for Social Responsibility, there is always someone or something behind such groups. Usually, a globalist entity.
So, a battlefield victory was won yesterday. But Constitution-loving Americans must remain vigilant in the war that still rages against individual freedom and liberty.