Dec 31, 2019

EPA's Trump-appointed scientific advisers criticize new proposals

EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler in September 2019. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with efforts to weaken wetland regulation and restrict the use of scientific studies to inform new rules, despite criticisms from its scientific advisers, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The claims that there are flaws in the science driving the administration's proposals are especially noteworthy coming from scientists and industry members who were appointed to the EPA's Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) by the president himself, per the Post.

  • “It really calls the question to what degree these suggested changes are fact-based as opposed to politically motivated,” said Steven Hamburg, a former SAB member and current chief scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, told the Post.

What they're saying: The SAB said the agency's plan to reverse a rule limiting pesticide applications in wetlands "neglects established science," per the Post.

  • The board also said the EPA's plan to reduce average gas mileage targets for cars and trucks are "implausible."
  • EPA spokeswoman Corry Schiermeyer told the Post that the agency “always appreciates and respects the work and advice” of the board but said reviews “may potentially be revised” before being finalized.

The big picture: The Trump administration has rolled back 58 environmental rules as of Dec. 21, per the New York Times, including:

  • Lowering regulation requirements of industrial polluters via the Clean Air Act.
  • Loosening offshore drilling safety regulations implemented after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
  • Altering applications of the Endangered Species Act, "making it more difficult to protect wildlife from long-term threats posed by climate change."
  • Rejecting a proposed pesticide ban on chlorpyrifos, which is "linked to developmental disabilities in children," per the Times.

Go deeper: EPA failed to follow rules for science panels overhaul, watchdog finds

Go deeper

Updated 17 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Updates: George Floyd protests nationwide

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued for a seventh day across the U.S., with President Trump threatening on Monday to deploy the military if the unrest continues.

The latest: "Widespread looting" occurred in Manhattan, including at "Macy's flagship store in Herald Square and luxury stores along Fifth Avenue" as the 11 p.m. curfew began Monday, per the New York Times.

Updated 55 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,273,402 — Total deaths: 375,683 — Total recoveries — 2,697,873Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,811,277 — Total deaths: 105,147 — Total recoveries: 458,231 — Total tested: 17,340,682Map.
  3. Public health: Nearly 26,000 coronavirus deaths in nursing homes have been reported to federal health officials —Coronavirus looms over George Floyd protests across the country.
  4. Federal government: Trump lashes out at governors, calls for National Guard to "dominate" streets.
  5. World: Former FDA commissioner says "this is not the time" to cut ties with WHO.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The virus didn't go away.
Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

St. John's clergy: Trump used church as prop, Bible as symbol of division

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Clergy of the historic St. John's Episcopal Church expressed furor and confusion over President Trump's visit on Monday, which he claimed was to honor the establishment after George Floyd protestors sparked a small fire on the property Sunday night.

The big picture: Park rangers and military police deployed tear gas and physical force to disperse peaceful protestors from Lafayette Park, which surrounds the White House, so Trump could walk to "pay respects" to the church — and a St. John's rector on the scene revealed in a Facebook post that she was left "coughing" from the tear gas.