Panel of Air Quality Scientists Fired by EPA Plans to Keep Working Without Pay

October 1, 2019 at 3:45 pm

An air pollution advisory board disbanded by the EPA will meet and issue its report without government funds

A committee of 20 scientists hired by the U.S. Government to determine safe levels of air pollution was recently fired, by the new head of the EPA, a former coal-industry lobbyist.

The scientists have decided to convene and issue their report on air pollution on their own dime.

The Particulate Matter Review Panel was made up of experts on “particulate matter” — aka tiny particles of pollution created by burning fossil fuels that cause respiratory disease, such as asthma and lung cancer.

They were initially hired by the EPA to decide what levels of these microscopic air pollutants are safe to breathe.

Under current standards, 21 million Americans live with levels of air pollution considered unsafe by the EPA.

The agency is currently conducting reviews to determine whether those  standards should be tightened or loosened.

To make sure their opinion reaches the EPA decision-makers, the committee will make the unprecedented move of paying for their own flights and hotels to meet in DC and work for free to issue their advisory report.

Head of the EPA and former coal industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, claims he disbanded the group because it “took too long to perform its task.”

He’s replaced the advisory board, with a new secretive panel called the “Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee” that will meet behind closed doors.

The old panel, which now calls itself the Independent Particulate Matter Review Panel, will hold a public meeting Oct. 10-11 at the same hotel it was originally scheduled at in DC.

“I’m proud to say that being disbanded is not an obstacle for our panel,” said panel chair Chris Frey of North Carolina State University in a press release. “If anything, being told that we were unilaterally terminated has redoubled my determination to discharge the public service to which I originally agreed.”

“This is the first time in the history of EPA where the credibility of the agency’s science review process has been so compromised that an independent panel of experts has recognized the need for and will be conducting a comprehensive review,” Chris Zarba, former director of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, told The Hill.

Air pollution is expected to kill up to 6 million people by 2050, according to a recent study by the Nature Conservancy. Planting urban trees can greatly reduce air pollution and save millions of lives, the study also found.