There was an Arkansas angle in EPA boss Scott Pruitt’s upending of the board of scientific counselors that advises the agency.
Robert Blanz, the chief technical officer for the state Department of Environmental Quality, was among those named. The appointment was praised by Sen. John Boozman in the Democrat-Gazette. He said Blanz, who spent 27 years in private industry before his state career, balanced the environment with economic interests.
We understand well that delicate balance in Arkansas environmental regulation. It’s an understanding that leads to hog feeding factories in the Buffalo River watershed. It’s an understanding that leads the director of ADEQ, extraction industry veteran Becky Keogh, to refuse to talk to the state Pollution Control and Ecology Commission about a landfill disaster. It leads to the proud fact that Arkansas, more than 40 years after passage of the federal Clean Water Act is one of only two states that has failed to establish a rule to provide protection for the most important waterways. We know how to balance environmental and economic interests. That foul odor? Smells like money here in Arkansas.
There’s been quite a bit of coverage of Pruitt’s ouster of scientists in favor of industry representatives (and some state regulators) on the advisory board. This report in The Hill captures the flavor of the group Blanz will be joining.
There will be reps from Phillips 66, the Southern Co. and the North Dakota Petroleum Council. The article also notes:
Some of the new advisers have controversial scientific views, including one who believes air quality is too clean for children, while the new members include multiple climate change skeptics.
Tony Cox, the new head of the clean air committee, runs a consulting firm serving oil and chemical clients. He has published research questioning whether recent reductions in pollutants like fine particulate matter and ozone yields health benefits, which runs contrary to the EPA’s position.
Robert Phalen of the University of California, Irvine is a new science board member. He has argued that current air quality in the United States is too clean for “optimum health.”
Search hard enough and they probably could find an agriculture industry representative who’d discourage cleaning up too much pig poop from scenic waters.