Goodbye science, hello industry

Rigorous, independent research and analysis should undergird everything the government does. Nowhere is that more true than at the Environmental Protection Agency, which crafts and enforces a wide range of regulations aimed at limiting damage to the environment — and to people — from pollutants.

Democratic administrations tend to use data to justify more aggressive regulation, while Republican administrations tend to prefer a lighter touch. But the current administration is following a third path, seemingly bent on converting the EPA into a science-be-damned rubber stamp for industry. And if director Scott Pruitt is successful, we will be living in a much more dangerous environment.

When his name first surfaced as President Trump’s pick to run the agency, critics complained that the president was putting a fox in charge of the henhouse. Pruitt has done nothing to dissuade the country that his critics were wrong. In his most recent move, he has decreed that academics and other scientists who hold research grants through the EPA cannot serve on long-standing panels that advise the EPA on the science upon which it bases its regulations.

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