The Environmental Protection Agency has removed "at least five" members of a scientific review board and may consider replacing them with representatives of industries it regulates, The New York Times reported.
It would mark the latest step from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and the Trump administration to reshape the agency in a way that cuts its reach and allows businesses to operate with fewer constraints. Critics of President Donald Trump's EPA, including Democratic politicians and environmental groups, have said the administration's actions so far jeopardize research and actions meant to combat climate change and protect public health. The White House has also called for dramatic cuts in the EPA budget.
It is not clear from what industries or companies the replacement members of the board could come. Trump has promised to boost oil and natural gas production in the United States while helping a flagging coal industry.
An EPA spokesman told CNBC in a statement that the agency received "hundreds of nominations" to serve on the Board of Scientific Counselors. The EPA wants to "ensure fair consideration of all nominees — including those nominated who may have previously served on the panel — and carry out a competitive nomination process," the spokesman said.