Update: EPA Will Review Troublesome Communications Policy for Independent Science Advisory Board

August 15, 2014
Michael Halpern
Former contributor

Last week, UCS joined other science and journalism organizations in a letter to the EPA expressing concern about how a new policy might limit the ability of independent scientists who advise the agency to speak publicly about their scientific research and opinions in a personal capacity, particularly the scientists who serve on its Science Advisory Board.

The EPA acknowledged receipt of the letter by telephone earlier this week, and just a few minutes ago I received the following email from EPA Chief of Staff Gwendolyn Keyes-Fleming:

Michael & Others,

Thank you so much for your letter and making us aware of your concerns. The Administrator and I, along with a host of others in the Agency, share your commitment to transparency and scientific integrity and that is why the Administrator has asked the our Science Advisor, Dr. Bob Kavlock, to review this matter. Bob will be in contact with you in the very near future. If you have any additional questions or concerns after connecting with Bob, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you again for your willingness to engage with us on this.

Sincerely,

Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming

Chief of Staff, USEPA

I’m encouraged that the EPA is taking our concerns seriously. UCS believes that independent scientists who advise the agency should have the ability to speak freely, recognizing that internal committee deliberations should be kept private. We look forward to discussing these and other issues with Dr. Kavlock, and we greatly appreciate the opportunity to engage with the EPA’s science advisor.

We’ll keep you updated as we hear more.