Using science to set ambient air pollution standards has worked remarkably well in the United States. Under both Democratic and Republican administrations, our nation has been able to follow a science-based process to set air pollution standards that help ensure cleaner air and protect public health. But now, the Trump administration is actively undermining the scientific expertise that helps set air pollution standards at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Trump administration has completely dismissed a set of experts on one air pollutant, failed to convene a panel of experts on another, and removed the independent scientists from serving on a third. Now, instead of independent scientists, the agency is left with a seven-member committee of mostly air pollution regulators. Now the EPA won't get the direct and robust feedback it needs from the scientific community. Without that scientific input, it is easier for the administration to make a decision that's politically convenient rather than scientifically backed.
And if air pollution standards are weakened, public health will undoubtedly suffer. Polluters would be able to emit more pollution from existing facilities and potentially build new polluting facilities in more places. And the health burdens won't fall equally. Low-income communities and communities of color that are already disproportionately burdened by air pollution from industrial and traffic sources are likely to be harder hit.
Write EPA Administrator Wheeler today to tell him that the American public—the very people his agency is supposed to help protect—are watching. Let him know that we will be on guard for any attempts to put polluter interests ahead of the public interest and will be ready to push our legislators to hold him accountable for any actions he takes that sideline science in the face of political expedience.
To: Andrew Wheeler,
For nearly 50 years, the United States has been well-served by the independent, data-driven science produced and utilized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to meet its fundamental mission by protecting the public from pollution.
That's why it's so disturbing to see the EPA reviewing its health-based air pollutions standards for particulate matter and ozone with far less scientific expertise than normal.
Under your leadership, the EPA has dismissed the particulate matter review panel entirely, failed to constitute an ozone panel, and removed the independent scientists serving on Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee. Now the agency is left with a seven-member committee of mostly air pollution regulators. This leaves very little subject matter expertise on air pollutant science and health.
Without sufficient expertise by qualified, independent scientists, the EPA's air pollution decisions are likely to lack the information necessary to provide an honest assessment of particulate matter impacts on health. The end result may be air pollution standards that insufficiently protect the United States public, especially among low-income communities and communities of color, as well as our most susceptible populations such as children and the elderly.
The EPA's stated mission is to protect human health and the environment. But how can you accurately protect the health of me and my community if you ignore, dismiss, or sideline experts on public health and the effects of air pollution?
I am joining with other concerned scientists and members of the public who will be carefully watching for any attempts to undermine the public interest and will be ready to push my legislators to hold you and the EPA accountable for any actions that sideline science in the face of political expedience.
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