Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, decried Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s Oct. 31 announcement that the EPA would begin to exclude scientists who have received EPA funding from the agency’s nonpartisan scientific advisory committees.

Pruitt plans to replace long-serving scientists with Republican state officials and representatives from the fossil fuel and chemical industries, according to reports.

In July, the Government Accountability Office accepted a request from Carper and Whitehouse to review the EPA’s process for selecting federal advisory committee members after the agency abruptly dismissed scientists from more than a dozen advisory positions. Carper’s original letter to the agency on this issue from May remains unanswered.

“Scott Pruitt’s latest move to reject qualified scientists to make room for industry-sponsored individuals isn’t fooling anyone. Since he arrived at the agency, Mr. Pruitt has repeatedly worked to silence EPA scientists, deny the facts and discredit science inconvenient to his agenda; now he’s trying to get rid of the scientists altogether,” Carper said. “Let’s be clear: EPA research grants and advisory roles should be awarded to the most qualified and most capable candidates. Period. EPA’s continued efforts to delegitimize the work of nonpartisan scientists doesn’t just offend the long tradition of this science-based agency. This crusade endangers the health of every American, and it cannot be tolerated.”

The EPA is home to 23 scientific advisory committees, which advise the agency on environmental science, public health, safety and other subjects central to the EPA’s work. Federal law requires the committees to remain balanced in the viewpoints they represent and functions they perform.