EPA Scientists Overruled by Political Appointees

On May 24, 2019, Bloomberg reported that political appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) disregarded the advice of agency scientists when designating Racine County in Wisconsin as being “in attainment” with federal air quality standards for ozone.

In 2017, agency scientists determined that Racine County did not meet the ozone standards, and therefore recommended that it be classified as a “nonattainment” area. That recommendation was rejected by political appointees at EPA after lobbying by then-Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. At the direction of then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Racine County was found to be “in attainment” in 2018. At the time, EPA scientists objected that there is no “sound technical basis” for the finding. EPA scientists also expressed concern about “intentional omissions” in the analysis supporting the finding. One EPA scientist reportedly complained that officials were “[t]aking snippets of information out of context and not telling the whole story” and thus “misleading the public and dilut[ing] the clarity of the technical information.”