The integrity of the Environmental Protection Agency (epa) has quickly disintegrated under the control of the Trump administration. With climate change denier Scott Pruitt heading the department, republicans have immediately gone to work at chipping away the core principles of the agency. Science has been completely removed from the department's mission statement, and the scientific Advisory Council is on the verge of being eradicated. Scientists wishing to speak out about the corruption currently happening within the department have been bullied into silence.

The purge

Deborah Swackhamer, a top-ranking environmental chemist on the advisory council, was supposed to testify before the House Science Committee regarding the massive purge of EPA scientists on May 23.

Her intent was to speak about the reasons behind the firings and the large-scale dismissals that took place. She was stopped in her tracks before she could testify by Ryan Jackson, the EPA's chief of staff. She was bullied into changing her testimony and lying about when the dismissals took place. She was given agency approved talking points and told to say that no one had been fired. All the while, EPA scientists were being dismissed before and after the hearing. In May, Pruitt fired 18 members of the EPA’s Board of Science Counselors (BOSC). The number has since risen to 38, leaving just 11 scientists at the agency. With the climate change-denying leadership, the EPA will be revoking the "Clean Water Rule" at the demand of President Trump, who signed the executive order back in February.

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Killing science

With all of these empty seats, Pruitt now has the power to fill them with whoever he wants. With his well-known ties to the fossil fuel industry, it will come as no surprise if these posts are filled by oil company representatives and others of the same sort. Ever since Trump took office, one of his top priorities has been to undermine and dismantle environmental protections. He began by signing executive gag orders for the National Parks Service (NPS) and the EPA. Then he slashed federal funding to the EPA and appointed Pruitt as the head of the department. Pruitt has been in several legal battles with the EPA for many years. He has been seen as the number one enemy of the agency, attempting to stop many of the environmental protections put in place by the department.

What's more, the Endangered Species Act has also come under fire by the current administration. Species like the Yellowstone grizzly bear have been removed from the list and protections have been lessened for other species. Even with the gag order, conservationists are not going down without a fight. Some have even decided to run in this year's local elections. California's 25th district now has volcanologist Jess Phoenix running for office.