Wednesday, November 1, 2017

EPA Bans Experts from Expert Panels

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The New York Times published an article yesterday by Lisa Friedman that details how the EPA is banning some of the science experts they fund from serving on expert panels. It is a move widely seen as stacking industry advisors on the environmental panels that oversee EPA policy.

The move is a strange one, but not wholly unexpected during these strange times.

Here is why it is so odd:  Imagine that you are the EPA and you want to understand how mercury is cycled in the environment. You put out a request for proposals to the scientific community for someone to do a detailed multi-year study on where mercury ends up getting stored in the environment. You receive dozens of proposals and develop a peer-review process by which the proposals are evaluated by experts in the field. Eventually, you select a three of the best proposals to conduct the study. One of the teams does amazing work, identifies mercury cycling and storage, and provides clear evidence for their conclusions. They publish their work in peer-reviewed journals and receive accolades from the scientific community. You would think that that team should be represented on a panel deciding mercury policy.

Not any longer. Instead, industry experts will be empaneled.

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