Scott Pruitt Is Using the Bible as His Guide for Reorganizing EPA’s Science Boards

By Rebecca Leber

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt on Tuesday used the Bible to explain his major changes to the composition of the agency’s independent science advisory committees, which play an important role in guiding and advising the EPA’s regulatory work.

“In the book of Joshua there is a story about Joshua leading the people of Israel into the promised land after Moses passed away,” Pruitt said. “And Joshua says to the people of Israel choose this day whom you’re going to serve. And I would say to you this is sort of like the ‘Joshua Principle’ that as it relates to grants to this agency, you are going to have to choose either service on the committee to provide counsel to us in an independent fashion or you can choose grants, but you cannot do both.”

What the “Joshua Principle” means for the EPA is that scientists who receive agency grants for their research are now barred from serving on any of its independent advisory boards. This opens the door to more industry and political representation on the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC), and the Science Advisory Board (SAB). The EPA’s most ardent critics in past administrations cheered the directive, which was announced at a “Live Press Event”—though it was unclear that many reporters were invited to attend. 

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