EPA’s Office of the Science Advisor to be Closed

Date: September 27th, 2018

Agency: EPA, Federal

Explanation: Personnel Changes

Scientist: Climate, Other

On September 27, 2018, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to close its Office of the Science Advisor (OSA).

Established in the mid-1990s, OSA provides scientific advice to the EPA Administrator. According to its website, OSA also leads “science policy development and implementation” at EPA, with the goal of “ensur[ing] that the highest quality science is better integrated into the Agency’s policies and decisions.”

OSA is currently led by Dr. Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, who serves as EPA’s Science Advisor, and chairs the Agency’s Science and Technology Policy Council. Dr. Orme-Zavaleta has worked at EPA for 37 years and is described on its website as an expert in “the evaluation of risks to human health” from “synthetic organic and inorganic chemicals, radionuclides, microorganisms, and vector-borne disease.” It is unclear whether Dr. Orme-Zavaleta will remain at EPA after OSA is closed.

UpdateOn October 18, 2018, 99 House Democrats wrote to Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to express their “strong opposition” to OSA’s closure. The letter describes the closure as an “attempt to diminish and dismiss the role of scientists” within EPA and argues that it will “jeopardize bedrock public health and environmental standards, and endanger the EPA’s ability to fulfill its mission of protecting human health and the environment.”