EPA Science Board Second-Guesses Pruitt on Gutted Tailpipe Emission Standards
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s independent Science Advisory Board is reviewing embattled administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision to roll back Obama-era tailpipe emission standards for light duty vehicles and trucks.
“The SAB should consider this action for review with regard to the adequacy of the supporting science,” members of the advisory group wrote in a May 18 memo obtained by Bloomberg. The full 44-member board, composed of independent scientists and researchers, was to meet last Thursday for a full vote on the rollbacks.
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“EPA announced in April that it will be changing the current federal standards for auto emissions, saying that levels determined under Obama are too stringent and unachievable, a move hailed by the fossil fuel industry and certain automakers but heavily criticized by environmentalists,” The Hill reports. Pruitt is also trying to limit the application of a 2016 regulation to control emissions from heavy trucks. “Scientists have heavily critiqued both regulation rollbacks for not being based on the best available science—an EPA mandate.”
On the auto emissions standard, “questions the group posed to EPA included asking what the repercussions to deploying the new fuel standard may be and how they could best be mitigated, and what the current barriers to consumer acceptance of ‘redesigned or advanced technology vehicles’ are and how those could be overcome,” The Hill adds. “The board noted that their recommendations would be taken into consideration by EPA as it determines the new emissions standards.”
In March, two former EPA administrators urged Pruitt to halt his attack on the truck standards, following reports that the decision was based on questionable research that had since been withdrawn by the university that had run the study. “Throughout our tenures as Administrators, our policy decisions were centered on the best available research and scientific protocols,” they wrote. “We are deeply troubled that the Agency’s steadfast commitment to public health and environmental protection based on the best available science is being undermined—putting at risk air and water quality and endangering children and families.”