Bush-era regs czar [John Graham] tapped to lead Science Advisory Board (with Genna)

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

This is seriously more bad news for anyone concerned about the Climate Crisis.
Graham has a long history of corporate supremacy.


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Date: Wed, Oct 14, 2020 at 4:39 PM
Subject: [goodregs] FW: Bush-era regs czar [John Graham] tapped to lead Science Advisory Board (with Genna)
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Subject: Bush-era regs czar tapped to lead Science Advisory Board (with Genna)

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Bush-era regs czar tapped to lead Science Advisory Board<https://www.eenews.net/eenewspm/2020/10/14/stories/1063716239?utm_campaign=edition&utm_medium=email&utm_source=eenews%3Aeenewspm>

Sean Reilly<https://www.eenews.net/staff/Sean_Reilly> and Hannah Northey<https://www.eenews.net/staff/Hannah_Northey>, E&E News reporters
Published: Wednesday, October 14, 2020[John D. Graham. Photo credit: @SPEA_DeanGraham/Twitter]

John Graham was head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs under President George W. Bush. @SPEA_DeanGraham/Twitter

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler today announced appointments to the agency’s Science Advisory Board, placing Trump administration picks to sit on the influential panel for the next three years no matter who wins on Election Day.

John Graham, a former White House regulations chief under President George W. Bush, is the new chairman of the panel, Wheeler announced.

Graham, now a professor of public and environmental affairs at Indiana University, was initially appointed to the board in 2017 by then-EPA chief Scott Pruitt. In opting to promote him to board chairman, Wheeler said in a news release that Graham’s advice had been “influential.”

“I’ve known John for years and he is really one of the best environmental scholars this country has to offer,” Wheeler said.

Graham has spent the bulk of his career in academia; from 2001 to 2006, however, he led the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which serves as a gatekeeper for proposed federal regulations. In response to emailed questions this morning, Graham said that he was honored to serve the agency and that his priority “is to strengthen the voice of science at EPA, without veering into policy making.”

But under the SAB’s previous chairman, Michael Honeycutt, the traditionally low-key panel repeatedly clashed with Wheeler over EPA’s handling of science in crafting new regulations or rolling back existing rules. For Trump administration critics, Wheeler’s endorsement of Graham serves as a summons for continued scrutiny.

“We’re going to have to watch to make sure that John Graham is indeed focusing the Science Advisory Board on giving the best scientific advice to EPA rather than giving them advice that will support industry’s agenda for the agency,” Genna Reed, a senior analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Center for Science and Democracy, said in a phone interview.

Graham’s tenure at OIRA was sometimes contentious, as when he played a role in setting a formula, eventually abandoned by EPA, that would have assigned a lower cost-benefit value to the life of older people (E&E News PM<https://www.eenews.net/stories/40198/>, Oct. 19, 2005). His public debut as chairman will take place at a Nov. 12 virtual public meeting intended in part to discuss a review of EPA’s revised guidelines for conducting economic analyses.

“Under his chairmanship, the SAB will provide a clear voice for soundly reasoned decision making,” James Hammitt, a Harvard University School of Public Health professor, said in the EPA release.

Graham’s elevation to chairman is part of a broader tweaking of the board’s membership to account for appointees whose terms expired at the end of last month or who are otherwise stepping down. The panel’s roster<https://www.eenews.net/assets/2020/10/15/document_gw_01.pdf> includes six new appointees. Its total size is down slightly to 42 members. By law, the SAB is charged with advising EPA on a variety of scientific and technical matters.

The board, traditionally made up mainly of academics from colleges and universities, has hosted an influx of members with business ties under the Trump administration. Among the new appointees, for example, is Kenneth Mundt, a senior principal health scientist with Cardno ChemRisk, a consulting firm that does work for industry. Mundt was also named chairman of an SAB standing committee<https://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabpeople.nsf/WebCommitteesSubcommittees/Chemical%20Assessment%20Advisory%20Committee> that focuses on chemical assessment.

Three years ago, Mundt was lead author of a study funded by the American Chemistry Council that found no link between formaldehyde exposure and leukemia (Greenwire<https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060053995/>, March 3, 2017).

Reed questioned the rationale for his appointment, as well as Wheeler’s decision to name Barbara Beck, a toxicologist with Gradient Corp., another consulting firm, to what appears to be the newly created position of vice chair of the SAB.

“To me, this just looks like a continued attempt from Administrator Wheeler to change established processes and erode the independence of the SAB,” Reed said. Beck has served on the board for two years, according to EPA.

Wheeler today also announced appointments to three other SAB standing committees on specific topics.

Scott Potter, for example, is the new chairman of the Drinking Water Committee<https://www.eenews.net/assets/2020/10/15/document_gw_04.pdf>. Potter is currently director at Metro Water Services in Nashville, Tenn., a department of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County that provides wastewater and stormwater services to over 250,000 customers.

EPA said the Drinking Water Committee had 13 members, 10 of whom had terms that don’t expire and will remain on the panel, while three completed their second terms in fiscal 2020. EPA also announced three additional new members: William Becker, a consultant with the environmental and engineering firm Hazen and Sawyer PC and an adjunct professor at Columbia University; Brian Hughes, a toxicologist with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy; and Katherine Robb, a policy analyst with the American Public Health Association.

Otto Doering, a retired professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University, and Brant Ulsh, a principal health physicist with the Cincinnati-based firm M.H. Chew & Associates, will continue as chairs of the Agricultural Science Committee and the Radiation Advisory Committee, respectively, according to the release.

Honeycutt, a senior official with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, chose to step down as chairman of the full board after serving a single term. While other members had described his relationship with Wheeler as strained, Honeycutt said earlier this year that he was never told he could not review a specific rulemaking.

In today’s release, Wheeler thanked Honeycutt for his service and called his leadership “instrumental in addressing the many complex science issues facing the EPA and in helping this administration reestablish the importance of the SAB.”

Reporter Corbin Hiar contributed.

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