North Dakota Petroleum Council VP to Serve on EPA Board of Science Counselors

Brady Pelton, left, and Kari Cutting, both of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, testify Wednesday on proposed oil and gas rules during a North Dakota Industrial Commission hearing in Bismarck. Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune

Later today the EPA will be announcing that Kari Cutting, Vice President of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, will be appointed to the agency’s Board of Scientific Counselors.

You can read the full list of BoSC appointees below.  You can see appointments to the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee and the Science Advisory Board here and here, respectively.

Cutting has a background in analytical chemistry and has worked in the energy in various capacities from sales to regulatory compliance.

“To ensure that EPA is receiving the best independent scientific advice, I am appointing highly-qualified experts and scientists to these important committees,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is quoted as saying in an press release I received in advance of the announcement.

Cutting has a background in analytical chemistry and has worked in the energy in various capacities from sales to regulatory compliance.

Pruitt has stoked some controversy in recent weeks with his guidelines for these appointments, saying that he won’t appoint anyone who is funded by the EPA itself. The release I’ve seen announcing Cutting’s appointment states that “nominees willing to serve have committed to remaining financially independent from EPA grants during their tenures.”

“Whatever science comes out of EPA, shouldn’t be political science,” Pruitt said in a press release announcing the decision. “From this day forward, EPA advisory committee members will be financially independent from the agency.”

Critics say this was an effort by Pruitt to rig the sources of scientific counsel the EPA receives.

“Independent science is absolutely critical to making good policies that keep our air and water clean and our communities safe. But this administration — particularly EPA administrator Pruitt — seems to have taken every opportunity to cut science out,” Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a statement. “Today’s announcement is a blatant effort to stack the boards and put narrow industry interests ahead of public health and safety.”

We hear a lot of concerns about reports from scientists and researchers funded completely or in part by the energy industry, and that’s fair. But we are nowhere near concerned enough about scientists and researchers whose conclusions may be colored by the politicians from which they get their money.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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