The leadership of the Environmental Protection Agency changed when Trump took office, but much of the old guard remains at their posts. And many of those Obama-era public employees have fervently resisted the efforts of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to depoliticize the agency.
One of those employees seems to be Francesca Grifo. As the EPA's scientific integrity official, she's responsible for keeping politics from polluting environmental research. Recently, though, Grifo seems to be going in a different direction, inviting numerous far-left political groups to advise the EPA on its scientific standards.
"It is my pleasure to invite you to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Scientific Integrity Annual Stakeholder Meeting," Grifo wrote in an email obtained by the Washington Examiner.
"At this meeting, as the EPA Scientific Integrity Official," she continued, "I will answer your questions, share current scientific integrity initiatives, and discuss future plans for scientific integrity at EPA."
Clearly an exclusive invite, the list includes academic institutions such as George Washington University and research leaders such as the American Chemical Society. Their acknowledged authority earns them a seat at the table. But progressive political groups seem like they're crashing the party by comparison.
For instance, what can the EPA hope to learn from a dark-money group such as Demos, whose president recently testified against Judge Gorsuch during his confirmation hearings? How could Public Citizen, the brainchild of Ralph Nader, be considered an authority? And why would the Natural Resources Defense Council, which is actively suing President Trump, even be invited?
An incredulous Grifo wouldn't offer any answers when reached by phone, referring the Washington Examiner to the agency's public relations office instead. "Good luck with that," Grifo said before hanging up. An EPA spokesman later followed up but didn't respond to questions.
It's still not known why those political groups were invited to EPA headquarters or on whose authority the stakeholder meeting was called. But it's obvious that their missions run counter to the efforts of Pruitt.
The conservative environmental administrator has turned his focus back to conservation, specifically toward enforcing the agency's original clean air and water standards. "It's so important to focus on the core of our mission," he told Fox News on Wednesday, reiterating that his goal was "actually doing things to clean up the environment."
Sadly, it seems that some in the EPA would rather play politics than join with Pruitt to fight pollution.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.