EPA Research Office Deputizes House Science Committee Aide

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By Brian Dabbs

A House Science, Space and Technology committee staff member took over the EPA deputy slot at the Office of Research and Development (ORD) June 12, according to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg BNA.

Richard Yamada will advise ORD leadership on office priorities, while representing Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt in advancing the agency’s new platform, ORD Acting Assistant Administrator Robert Kavlock said in the memo.

The office spearheads the EPA scientific research that lays the foundation for the agency’s rulemakings, analyses and models. The deputy position does not require Senate confirmation.

Yamada holds a bachelor of science degree from Yale University and a doctorate from Cornell University. He’s worked on the House science committee for roughly four and a half years, joining the panel at the same time Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) took the reins.

Smith led the House effort earlier this Congress to pass the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 1431). That legislation, which passed on partisan lines, would modify advisory board member qualifications and could exclude scientists who have EPA grants or contracts.

The bill’s supporters say it would open up EPA research to more viewpoints, but detractors say the measure would increase industry influence at the expense of sound science. An uncertain future awaits the legislation in the Senate.

The White House has yet to tap a permanent ORD assistant administrator, a position that does require Senate approval.

—With assistance from Steve Gibb.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Dabbs in Washington at bdabbs@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at rdaigle@bna.com

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