After Axing Key Science Office, Trump Puts Ex-Koch Exec in Charge of Research at EPA
WASHINGTON – The Trump administration has tapped a longtime chemical and fossil fuel industry executive, who most recently worked for the ultraconservative Koch brothers, to head the scientific research arm of the Environmental Protection Agency. The move comes days after the EPA shut down its science advisory office, and a week after its top children’s health official was dismissed.
The EPA confirmed Monday to Courthouse News Service that David Dunlap, a chemical engineer who since 2010 has been the director of environmental affairs at Koch Industries, is the new chief of the agency’s Office of Research and Development.
Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held corporation in the U.S., makes and refines petroleum, chemicals, fertilizers and plastics. In the early months of Trump’s presidency, Koch Industries spent more than $3 million on lobbying, helping secure the confirmations of Energy Secretary Rick Perry and disgraced former EPA chief Scott Pruitt.
“The Trump administration is systematically de-emphasizing science at the EPA while installing industry hacks who are giving polluters free reign,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “This dumbing-down of the agency that is supposed to use science to protect Americans from toxic pollution is irresponsible, and will have real consequences for public health.”
“For nearly a decade, David Dunlap has been on the payroll of a company notorious for opposing environmental regulation and for funding a network of shadowy far-right groups,” Cook said. “He was installed at the EPA because Charles and David Koch wanted one of their own in a position of influence inside the agency they despise the most.”
Last week the EPA announced the closing of the Office of Scientific Advisor, which was charged with ensuring that the best current science was integrated into all the agency’s policies and decisions. A few days later, the doctor who headed the Office of Children’s Health was abruptly placed on administrative leave, amid rumors that the office itself will be axed.
Before Pruitt left, he proposed a rule to limit the types of scientific research the EPA could consider in promulgating new public health policies. And the post of chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which ensures that federal agencies follow the National Environmental Policy Act, has been vacant since Trump took office.