Congressional Republicans have long complained that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) were rubber-stamping new EPA regulations, according to The Washington Post. The BOSC has a mission to determine whether research has sufficient rigor and integrity.

The Trump administration is taking steps to change how the BOSC functions. The academicians on the board usually serve two three-year stints. The members, who were finishing their first term, were told once by the Obama administration and later by career EPA staffers that they would stay on for another term. But, on Friday, some academics received emails from the agency stating they would not be renewed. A dozen scientists are to be removed from a key board of the EPA, which amounts to an expulsion of half of the panel’s members.

Robert Richardson, an ecological economist at Michigan State and member of the Board of Scientific Counselors, was one of the members to receive the email. He told the Washington Post, “I’ve never heard of any circumstance where someone didn’t serve two consecutive terms,” he added that the dismissals gave him “great concern that objective science is being marginalized in this administration.”

A spokesman for EPA administrator Scott Pruitt confirmed that Pruitt – a long time critic of the EPA – is thinking of replacing the academics with industry experts.

“The administrator believes we should have people on this board who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community,” said Pruitt’s spokesman, J.P. Freire. He added that they want a “clean break with the last administration’s approach.”

Joe Arvai, who directs the University of Michigan’s Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, is a member of a different EPA board, the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). He said in an email to The Washington Post that Pruitt and his colleagues need to keep in mind that the EPA, “ ‘already includes credible scientists from industry’ and that its ‘work on agency rulemaking is open to public viewing and comment. So, if diversity of thought and transparency are the administrator’s concerns, his worries are misplaced because the SAB already has these bases covered. So, if you ask me, his moves over the weekend — as well as the House bill to reform the SAB — are attempts to use the SAB as a political toy,’ ” Arvai said.