The conservative chairman of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee questioned the longstanding science linking air pollution to early deaths and health problems, according to The Guardian.
At a meeting to review air pollution science compiled by staffers at the Environmental Protection Agency this week the advisory board chairman, Tony Cox – a consultant and statistician who has worked for the industry and criticized EPA standards – questioned whether soot from coal plants and cars can be directly blamed for asthma and cardiopulmonary problems.
Cox pushed staffers to specify what percentage of health problems are directly caused by the pollution or are just associated with it, a figure that the US government has not required in order to restrict pollutants that are known to harm people.
Cox’s stance only furthers the impression by many in the scientific community, as well as career and former EPA officials, that the Trump administration is seeking to undermine research as it works to roll back countless regulations.
“It’s really all a facade at this point,” said Christopher Frey, a scientist and professor at North Carolina State University who was chairman of the committee under the Obama administration from 2012 to 2015. “Almost everything that could have been changed to weaken the process has been changed, including how members have been appointed and the timeline.”
The EPA’s acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler, has appointed representatives from state-level agencies and industry to the science review committee, called the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee. EPA political leaders also disbanded two panels of experts on soot and smog.