EPA Science Advisors Excluded from Decision-Making

On February 25, 2020, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler sent a memo to staff outlining a new "Science Advisory Board Process for Engagement for Review of Regulatory Actions." The memo indicates that, in the future, decisions regarding which agency regulations should be reviewed by EPA's Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) will be made solely by the board chair following discussions with agency staff. This represents a departure from current practice, under which all board members are involved in the decision-making process. 

The change has been widely criticized. The former head of EPA's SAB staff office, Chris Zarba, called the new process as a "sad day" for the integrity of EPA decision-making. He stated that the open procedures previously used by the SAB are "being replaced by a closed-door secret process ensuring agency leadership can decide what will be reviewed and how it will be reviewed."