EPA official pressured top scientist to change her congressional testimony

Recent e-mails from Ryan Jackson, chief of staff to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, reveal that he pressured Deborah Swackhamer, the top scientist on the agency’s scientific review board, to misstate facts about the EPA’s firing of dozens of expert advisors. To Swackhamer’s credit, she didn’t. When she was preparing to testify before the House Science Committee last month, Jackson reportedly told her to stick to the agency’s “talking points” rather than mention the dismissal of the scientists. “I was factual, and he was not,” she said. “I felt bullied.” The EPA is currently purging outside science staff and will leave just 11 scientists on its advisory boards by September—a strong signal that the agency is rejecting its former dedication to independent science in favor of polluter-friendly policies. Congressional officials are now asking the EPA’s inspector general to investigate Jackson’s actions.

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