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The Environmental Protection Agency headquartersin Washington, D.C. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Officials appointed by former President Trump interfered to overrule career scientists in a safety assessment for a toxic chemical linked to health issues at the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA said Tuesday.

Why it matters: EPA career scientists found in a review that conclusions made by the officials in regards to the chemical, PFBS, "were compromised by political interference as well as infringement of authorship and the scientific independence of the authors' conclusions," according to a statement by President Biden's EPA.

"This constitutes a violation of the agency’s Scientific Integrity Policy and the documents have been removed from the EPA website while the agency completes its review."
— EPA statement
  • The chemical affected by the January changes to the safety assessment has been linked to the contamination of drinking water affecting some 860,000 Americans.
  • Politico reported at the time that Trump-appointed officials had "overruled the agency's career scientists to weaken" the assessment.

What they're saying: "Issuing documents, like the PFBS Toxicity Assessment, that include conclusions purporting to reflect science when in fact they are the product of biased political interference undermines the agency’s scientific integrity policy," said Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, acting assistant administrator for the Office of Research and Development and the agency’s acting science advisor.

  • It "erodes the trust that the American public has in EPA, the quality of our science, and our ability to protect their health and the environment," she added.

What's next: A Trump administration release and the agency’s website will be updated to indicate the removal of the assessment and provide transparency around the agency’s actions.

The big picture: Biden has ordered a government-wide review of over 100 Trump-era policies and direct agencies to prepare a suite of emissions and energy efficiency rules, after four years of the former president rolling back a slew of Obama-era regulations.

  • Biden has issued a memorandum on restoring "trust in government through scientific integrity and evidence-based policymaking."

For the record: The EPA's statement comes one day after CDC director Rochelle Walensky told the Washington Post that "minority" of the health agency's COVID-19 pandemic response guidelines had been "politically swayed" by some Trump-appointed staff.

The other side: In January, an EPA spokesperson with the Trump administration defended the changes, telling Politico it's "routine" to consult with others in the agency.

  • "This collaboration is important as other program offices have information and expertise that can improve the scientific quality of the work product under review," she said.

Go deeper

59 mins ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

1 hour ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."

Updated 2 hours ago - World

In reversal, Pentagon now says drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians

Caskets for the dead are carried towards the gravesite as relatives and friends attend a mass funeral for members of a family that is said to have been killed in a U.S. drone airstrike, in Kabul on Aug. 30. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A U.S. drone strike launched on Aug. 29 killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan, including seven children, rather than the Islamic State extremists the Biden administration claimed it targeted, the Pentagon said Friday.

Why it matters: U.S. Central Command said at the time that officials "know" the drone strike "disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport, and that they were "confident we successfully hit the target."