FIRST ON FOX: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was slapped with a lawsuit Thursday by aformer Trump-era advisory member, alleging the "purge " of the Biden administration of industry representatives violates federal law.
In March, EPA administrator Michael Regan removed more than 40 members of the Science Advisory Board (SAB) and seven members of the Scientific Advisory Board on the Clean air (CASAC) in one move, he said, would rid committees of industry influence and restore science advisers.
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But the lawsuit, launched by law firm Jones Day on behalf of Stanley Young - who served on the SAB during the Trump administration - argued the stacking ofs like-minded advisory roles of scientists sympathetic to White House policies is a step too far.
"Committees today are unfairly balanced - both in terms of views and functions that commissions are called upon to perform - because they lack a single member affiliated with regulated industries, "the lawsuit reads.
According to court documents obtained by Fox News, Young v EPA claims that by eliminating all those responsible for the industry, Regan violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).
FACA was promulgated in 1972 to ensure the advice provided by committees is "objective" and publicly available.
But the lawsuit alleges that two FACA guiding principles were violated in the sweeping purge of representatives from the regulated industry.
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According to the lawsuit, the FACA aims to ensure that Members' views are "fairly balanced " and that the opinion of the committees is not "unduly influenced by the appointing authority " but rather independently judged by the advisers.
Under the Trump administration, former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt removed scientist groups from EPA advisory boards and filled roles with representatives Of the industry.
It has been estimated that it has tripled the number of industry scientists and consulting firms on the SBA alone and halved the number of university scientists, the Washington Post reported in 2017.
But Young v. EPA alleged that a balance of consultants universities, non-profit organizations and regulated industries was represented on the committees.
"In its haste to remove all traces of industry from its advisory committees, the 'EPA has trampled on the FACA and its obligation to make reasoned decisions, "the documents read.
The lawsuit says 47 officials were appointed to the SBA and seven as as members of CASAC, but no member is affiliated with a regulated industry.
By failing to comply with the FACA, the documents allege that the EPA further violated the law on the administrative procedure (APA).
"Industry representation is essential because industry contributions flashent board and committee advice, and committee advice and the resulting EPA actions significantly affect many regulated industries, "the suit reads.
The lawsuit called for a halt to all committee activities until a "balanced member " could be put in place.
Jones Day has already represented Fox News.