EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House on June 2. On Tuesday, the Union of Concerned Scientists filed a lawsuit against Pruitt and the EPA over a directive to remove scientists from advisory panels. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 23 (UPI) -- A group of scientists filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency for cutting scientists from advisory boards and committees that receive federal grants for studies.
The Union of Concerned Scientists said the EPA is aiming to limit scientists from academic and non-profit organizations and is violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which "requires advisory committees to be fairly balanced and protected from inappropriate influence by the appointing authority," according to the lawsuit.
In October, EPA head Scott Pruitt issued a directive that barred scientists who received EPA funding from advising the agency.
"Whatever science comes out of EPA, shouldn't be political science," Pruitt said at the time. "From this day forward, EPA advisory committee members will be financially independent from the Agency."
Pruitt said scientists can choose to serve as an EPA advisor or continue to receive funding, "but they can't do both," the Washington Post reported.
Joshua Goldman, a senior legal analyst for UCS, said on Tuesday that Pruitt's directive was an "abuse of power and an affront to the scientific integrity of the EPA and the federal government."
"This directive singles out scientists from the nonprofit and academic sector -- recognized experts in their field who want to serve the public -- and asks them to choose between public service and their scientific work," Goldman said. "It's another example of this administration's hostility to independent scientific input and basing policy on impartial and balanced scientific evidence. The directive inherently prevents the agency from receiving independent scientific advice, and erects unnecessary barriers to scientists who want to use their expertise to serve the public."
The EPA has not commented on the pending lawsuit.