Next wave of EPA science advisers could include those who question climate change

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

People who have questioned aspects of mainstream climate research appear on a list of 132 possible candidates for positions on EPA’s influential Science Advisory Board, which the agency has opened for public comment until September 28. The board currently has 47 members, but 15 have terms ending in September and could be replaced by some of the candidates.

Chemical Industry Ally Faces Critics in Bid for Top E.P.A. Post

Read the full story in the New York Times.

The scientist nominated to head the federal government’s chemical regulatory program has spent much of his career helping businesses fight restrictions on the use of potentially toxic compounds in consumer goods.

EPA under Trump shrinks to near Reagan-era staffing levels

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The workforce of the Environmental Protection Agency could soon shrink to the lowest level since Ronald Reagan occupied the White House — part of a push to curtail the size and scope of an agency that President Trump once promised to eliminate “in almost every form.”

Arkema Chemical Plant Explosion Shows Downsides to EPA Cuts

Read the full story at Triple Pundit.

Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) has a few probing questions for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt these days. And with the recent explosion at the Crosby, Tex. Arkema plant, it seems that list is getting much longer.

Last week, while Hurricane Harvey was pummeling the Texas coast, the Arkema chemical plant, which stores volatile substances like organic peroxides under refrigeration, lost power. Although the cause of the explosion is still being determined, there’s been some question as to whether the plant was up to date on its risk assessment protocol and whether it should have had a back up system in place to ensure the chemicals didn’t lose refrigeration.

Worse, is the fact that nearly a week later, authorities still do not have a complete list of the chemicals that are on site, or what the concoction of fumes was that police officers were inhaling when they arrived at the explosion. Fifteen officers were subsequently sent to the hospital for inhaling toxic fumes.

Carper, who has been fairly critical of Pruitt’s plan to downsize the EPA’s role in regulating industries like chemical manufacturing plants, had investigators quickly assess what backup procedures were in place when the power went down. Carper is one of the top Democrats of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which has direct oversight for the EPA.

EPA now requires political aide’s sign-off for agency awards, grant applications

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The Environmental Protection Agency has taken the unusual step of putting a political operative in charge of vetting the hundreds of millions of dollars in grants the EPA distributes annually, assigning final funding decisions to a former Trump campaign aide with little environmental policy experience.

The Energy 202: EPA takes page from Trump media playbook

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Some Cabinet officials, in fact, have embraced Trump’s method for manhandling the media. Consider Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the response of his media shop to an Associated Press story over the weekend.

Scott Pruitt Is Carrying Out His E.P.A. Agenda in Secret, Critics Say

Read the full story in the New York Times.

When career employees of the Environmental Protection Agency are summoned to a meeting with the agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, at agency headquarters, they no longer can count on easy access to the floor where his office is, according to interviews with employees of the federal agency.

Doors to the floor are now frequently locked, and employees have to have an escort to gain entrance.

Some employees say they are also told to leave behind their cellphones when they meet with Mr. Pruitt, and are sometimes told not to take notes.

Mr. Pruitt, according to the employees, who requested anonymity out of fear of losing their jobs, often makes important phone calls from other offices rather than use the phone in his office, and he is accompanied, even at E.P.A. headquarters, by armed guards, the first head of the agency to ever request round-the-clock security.