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The past two years have been met with tremendous change in the protection of human health and the environment and nowhere is this more apparent than at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Established in 1972, the EPA is charged with protecting human health and environmental systems by regulating air and water quality, drinking water quality, pesticide and herbicide use, and contamination and emission cleanups. Yet recently it has begun to move in a direction diametrically opposed to its Congressionally-mandated mission.
Given the complexity and breadth of this mandate, Congress established more than one dozen scientific advisory committees to guide evidence-based EPA decisions in keeping with the best available science. (Committee expertise comprises public health, medicine, behavior science, environmental engineering, applied economics, and ecology.)
But despite opposing advice, a number of rules and programs have recently been rolled back to the benefit of chemical manufacturers and the oil, gas, and coal industries, and the detriment of human and environmental health.
Of equal concern are the changes that have been made to the EPA’s advisory committees, which has either been disbanded or repopulated with industry representatives who support a deregulation agenda and have little to no background in gathering the evidence-based data once provided by independent researchers and scientists.
This seminar will detail how scientific advice is generated and used to support decisions at the EPA, and how changes to the system are being bolstered by selective and dubious scientific evidence, therefore undermining the integrity of science and the health of the earth and its inhabitants.
LearningLife’s From the Field series provides a firsthand look at the professions that shape, and the practitioners who influence our world.
Deborah Swackhamer, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, is Professor Emerita of Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health, at the University of Minnesota, where she directed the Water Resources Center from 2002−2014.
She is past president of the National Institutes of Water Resources, and served a four-year term as Chair of the Science Advisory Board of the US Environmental Protection Agency and a three-year term as a member of the Science Advisory Board of the International Joint Commission of the United States and Canada.
Swackhamer served as chair of the Chair of the US EPA Board of Scientific Counselors for 2015−2018, and currently serves on the National Academy of Sciences Board of Environmental Science and Toxicology.
She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Founders Award from the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry for lifetime achievement in environmental sciences and the University of Minnesota’s Ada Comstock Award.
Photo: Dan Dealmeida