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Corporate Members Of Murphy DEP Science Advisory Board Must Be Replaced

Terms Expire – Time For Dupont And Corporate Hacks To Go

SAB Appointments A Test For Acting DEP Commissioner LaTourette

Let me first put this important NJ DEP story in a national context.

Biden EPA Administrator Michael Regan recently dismissed 40 Trump political appointees, mostly members of EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) and Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), see EPA Press release (my emphases):

“Scientific integrity is one of EPA’s foundational values – and as Administrator, I am committed to ensuring that every decision we make meets rigorous scientific standards,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Resetting these two scientific advisory committees will ensure the agency receives the best possible scientific insight to support our work to protect human health and the environment. Today we return to a time-tested, fair, and transparent process for soliciting membership to these critically important advisory bodies.”

A prior Washington Post story reported:

The move was designed to restore EPA’s scientific integrity, reduce undue corporate and political influence on science and policy, and rebuild EPA staff moral and public trust in EPA.

Regan’s move was widely praised.

In a letter to EPA staff, Administrator Regan wrote that

when politics drives science rather than science informing policy, we are more likely to make policy choices that sacrifice the health of the most vulnerable among us.” 

But restoring the status quo is not nearly enough, as Obama’s EPA made bad decisions  that thankfully were exposed by SAB recommendations.

All of this brought back memories of the work I did criticizing NJ DEP’s Science Advisory Board, including filing a successful lawsuit to make the SAB appointment process more transparent, see:

Over the years, we’ve written many times about the DEP SAB and issues of scientific integrity and undue corporate and political influence and shown how this undermines and weakens protections of public health and the environment, see:

Those efforts have resulted in some reforms at the DEP SAB, but DEP initiated reforms have not gone nearly far enough.

Corporate influence must be eliminated. Any role in regulation must be strictly prohibited. And far stronger scientific integrity, conflict of interest, transparency, public involvement, and ethical standards must be imposed on the SAB.

That’s why it’s important to note that several members of the NJ DEP SAB terms expire on May 14, 2021, including Dupont’s corporate representative John Gannon.

Remarkably, Gannon is not the only Dupont man on the DEP SAB. He is joined by Gerald Kennedy, a “risk assessment” expert whose term also expires

The SAB term of John Dyksen, also expires on May 14, 2012. Dyksen is a corporate man, who serves as Director of United Water’s corporate engineering and planning group.

The term of  Paul Bovitz also expires. Bovitz is a corporate consultant for Weston.

Another corporate dirty water consultant, Tom Amidon’s of Kleinfelder term also expires.

All five of these current corporate SAB members whose terms are expiring must be replaced by Acting Commissioner Shawn LaTourette.

We will write a letter urging that to happen and we urge our readers to weigh in as well.

Of course, this is newsworthy and deserves press attention – just like EPA Administrator Regan got.

To give just one illustration of the implications and just how corrupt things are, see how we criticized the joint work of Dupont’s Gannon and United Water’s Dyksen:

DEP Commissioner Martin asked his hand picked Science Advisory Board to provide recommendations on whether and how to regulate these chemicals. Here’s how the SAB framed Commissioner Martin’s “charge topic” in their Final Report;

Issue

Numerous chemicals, some of which may be a potential risk to human or environmental health, are used every day in New Jersey (NJ) for industrial, commercial and household purposes. Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC) are those that present a concern for both hazard and exposure. A number of these chemicals may find their way into the State’s wastewater treatment facilities, receiving waters, aquifers and drinking water treatment facilities and other chemicals may be released to air or deposited in soils. CEC have raised concern around the world, as once released, these products pose a potential threat to biota and the environment. To address this issue specifically in New Jersey, the NJDEP Science Advisory Board (SAB) formed the CEC work group which was asked to investigate this issue.

With that set of issues in mind, here is a key recommendation from the DEP SAB Final Report on Contaminants of Emerging Concern:

It is recommended that the hazard assessment be conducted using a platform called METIS (Metanomics Information System) developed by DuPont. METIS is a chemical informatics platform that provides a screening level view of potential environmental fate and effects, human health concerns, andsocietal perception concerns.

Did you catch that?

The DEP SAB recommended a chemical hazard assessment method developed by Dupont, a chemical manufacturer that would be subject to the regulations of those chemicals.

But it gets worse.

The SAB Final Report was conveyed to DEP Commissioner Martin from a Rutgers University Professor, on Rutgers letterhead.

The Rutgers transmittal letter emphasized and implicitly praised the role of sub-committee Chair John Dyksen, who just so happens to be a corporate official with United Water and of John Gannon, who just so happens to be a corporate official with Dupont.

We’ve been exposing lack of scientific integrity, undue corporate and political influence, and lack of transparency.

Will Acting Commissioner LaTourette do the right thing and terminate these five SAB members?

[End Note: A reader sent me an email asking why would I expect LaTourette to terminate these corporate hacks, when Gov. Murphy still has not purged Christie political appointments at the Pinelands Commission (including Executive Director Wittenberg) and Highlands Council.

That is really bad – what the heck are Pinelands Preservation Alliance and the Highlands Coalition doing about that? They have lots of resources, including from Wm. Penn and Dodge Foundations! Is that Foundation money handcuffing their advocacy?

I consider myself the only DEP watchdog and I know of no group or individual in NJ who works on scientific integrity or the SAB – and of course, I take no Foundation or government money. It show, no? ~~~ end]

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