(Quin Hillyer, Liberty Headlines) Liberals love to accuse conservatives of having corporation-related conflicts of interest, no matter how tenuous the link.

But when liberal eco-warriors are called on the carpet for direct and obvious conflicts, they howl.

Scott Pruitt, the conservative Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, is facing pushback from members of various EPA “advisory boards” for his directive asking for resignations from the board by any members who also receive grants from the EPA.

On the surface, this is standard stuff, even banal: If you receive funding from a public agency, you shouldn’t be advising the agency on matters of policy.

The potential conflicts of interest are blindingly apparent.

“Whatever science comes out of EPA, shouldn’t be political science,” said Administrator Pruitt. “From this day forward, EPA advisory committee members will be financially independent from the Agency.”

As noted by the press release accompanying Pruitt’s Oct. 31 directive, “According to EPA calculations, in just the last three years, members of three of EPA’s 22 [advisory committees] – the Science Advisory Board (SAB), Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) and the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) – received upwards of $77 million in direct EPA grant funding while concurrently serving on these committees.”

memo also issued by Pruitt explained further that instead of being tempted by any financial considerations, advisory committee members “should be motivated by service and committed to providing informed and independent expertise and judgment.”

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, photographed by Gage Skidmore, Flickr


This directive did not sit well with liberal researchers accustomed to the EPA gravy train.

At Columbia University’s Climate Law Blog, writer Michael Burger had a fit, calling Pruitt’s action “arbitrary and capricious” because “there has been no process, no notice given or comment taken, no hearing held, no record compiled, no reasoned explanation.”

Writing as if the members sat on the advisory committees by some sort of legal right, Burger took great pains to show that the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) does not define such situations as automatic conflicts of interest, and thus that the APA does not require such members to be dismissed.

Conservatives would answer, of course, that the question isn’t whether the dismissals are required by law, but rather whether they are allowed.

Nothing, they say, keeps an administrator from adopting policies stricter than baseline legal requirements, in order to protect the public interest.

Nonetheless, some of the advisory board members were emboldened by Burger’s blog post.

Ohio State researcher Robyn Wilson insists that, unless specifically and personally fired by Pruitt, she will both keep her EPA funding and her seat on the EPA’s Science Advisory Board……

[The full column is here.]