According to a new report in The Washington Post, EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced on Wednesday that he is firing more than 40 advisors appointed by Former President Donald Trump, aiming to restore an emphasis on science at the agency, as well as rebuild public trust with them.
Regan explained the motive behind the move in a statement:
“When politics drives science rather than science informing policy, we are more likely to make policy choices that sacrifice the health of the most vulnerable among us.”
The Post notes that Regan’s purge includes Trump appointees who informed EPA policies and actions that favored the agenda of major corporations and industries that pollute rather than protecting the environment and focusing on the growing climate crisis.
Regan criticized the Trump-appointed members on the Science Advisory Board (SAB) and Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) who helped roll back regulations on air pollution, fracking, and other environmental issues:
“Resetting these two scientific advisory committees will ensure the agency receives the best possible scientific insight to support our work to protect human health and the environment.”
Earlier this month, Regan declared that Americans “deserve access to science and data,” as he restored the agency’s climate change website, which had been shut down by Scott Pruitt, Trumps’ EPA Administrator.
In a letter to agency staff, Regan said that “when politics drives science rather than science informing policy, we are more likely to make policy choices that sacrifice the health of the most vulnerable among us,” and that “manipulating, suppressing, or otherwise impeding science has real world consequences for human health and the environment.”
Many environmental experts and advocates praised Regan’s move, and some, like Donna Chavis, senior fossil fuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth, urged him to do even more:
“Regan and the EPA have a new opportunity to place environmental justice at the center of the agency and the United States’ approach to the climate crisis,” and urged him Regan to “take bold and visionary steps to rebuild the EPA and address the very real climate crisis we face in the U.S. and globally.”
In December, then President-Elect Joe Biden was filling his administration and cabinet quickly before his inauguration.
The Biden/Harris Transition Team announced that Biden had picked Gina McCarthy, the former head of the EPA under Obama as his “climate czar.” McCarthy is known for being a vocal opponent of Donald Trump’s environmental policies and will lead the new White House office dedicated to US climate policy.
The White House Climate Czar is a new role tasked with spearheading the government’s response to the climate crisis, according to a source familiar with the decision. McCarthy has strongly and vocally opposed President Trump’s efforts to roll back climate rules in her role as president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
McCarthy was Biden’s second big climate hire. Former Secretary of State and presidential candidate John Kerry was tapped to lead the nation’s international talks in another new task force: Special presidential envoy on climate.
Biden ran on a very ambitious climate platform, arguably more-so than any presidential candidate ever before.
Since getting elected Biden has named focusing on climate change as one his top priorities. Creating several new climate roles is among the demands from the Sunrise Movement, a group of young climate activists who are pressing the government to take action on the important issue.
Biden has also already filled other roles in his administration with appointees that boast climate credentials and many of whom worked with him in the Obama administration.
Brian Deese, Biden’s pick as next director of the National Economic Council, played a big role in negotiating the Paris climate agreement. Janet Yellen, Biden’s pick to be Secretary of the Treasury, has long history of climate change activism.
Biden’s embrace of a progressive approach to climate change is a very stark contrast to the Trump regime, who withdrew the country from the Paris climate agreement, hired numerous science deniers, undermined scientists at every turn, and rolled back policies to allow cars, trucks, and power plants to pollute more.
Of course, the choosing of McCarthy doesn’t come without scrutiny from the right. Fox News reports she “headed a major environmentalist group whose close working relationship with China has led to concerns that Beijing could wield influence on the United States’ climate and energy policy.”
McCarthy is the president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has filed more than 100 lawsuits against the Trump administration.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. stated in a September letter that the Department of Justice should investigate potential Chinese and Russian for possibly trying to influence U.S. environmental and energy policy.
“The NRDC maintains a presence in China and has long worked with [Chinese Communist Party] officials. Meanwhile, the group touts the dozens of lawsuits that it has launched against the Trump Administration,” Cheney wrote.