86 Tex. L. Rev. 165 (2007-2008)
Conflict of Interest and the EPA's Science Advisory Board

handle is hein.journals/tlr86 and id is 171 raw text is: Notes

Conflict of Interest and the EPA's Science Advisory
Board*
I.   Introduction
Scientific advisory committees are an integral part of the modem
administrative state-reviewing, weighing, and interpreting the often
complex scientific and technical information that informs policy making and
regulatory actions by federal agencies.1 In 2003, more than 200 federal advi-
sory committees dealt with scientific and technical issues, including
pharmaceutical and medical-device safety, environmental regulation, and
biomedical research.2 Given the often esoteric and highly technical nature of
the science that agency policy makers must assess and synthesize, scientific
advisory committees provide a ready and cost-effective means of supple-
menting the limited expertise available within the federal bureaucracy with
the vast pool of highly qualified experts outside of government.3 Moreover,
since scientific assessments by agencies are often surrounded by heated
politics, science advisory boards are viewed as a key mechanism for
independent and neutral scientific review that is insulated from political
4
pressure.
The success and legitimacy of scientific advisory committees depend
upon their remaining uncontaminated by political and economic pressures. If
they are contaminated, not only are the advantages of science boards lost, but
they also risk becoming yet another tool to advance politics under the guise
of science. It is thus essential both that scientific advisory committees be
representative of the general body of scientists with relevant expertise on the
issue and that scientists who participate are free of conflicts of interest or
biases that might actually-or apparently-affect their neutrality           and
* I would like to thank the editorial board and members of the Texas Law Review for their
diligent efforts in preparing this Note for publication. I am particularly grateful to Emily Tubb,
Lauren Tanner, Samantha Porphy, and Claire Chandler for their meticulous editing of this Note. I
also owe a great debt of gratitude to Professor Wendy Wagner, who provided valuable comments
and suggestions throughout the research and writing process. Finally, I would like to thank my wife
Katie for her patience and encouragement.
1. See SHEILA JASANOFF, THE FIFTH BRANCH: SCIENCE ADVISERS AS POLICYMAKERS 1
(1990) ([I]n most programs of health, safety, and environmental regulation, consultation between
agencies and advisory committees has become almost routine, even when not required by law.).
2. Robert Steinbrook, Science, Politics, and Federal Advisory Committees, 350 NEW ENG. J.
MED. 1454, 1457 (2004).
3. JASANOFF, supra note 1, at 1.
4. See id. (describing science advisory committees as inject[ing] a much-needed strain of
competence and critical intelligence into a regulatory system that otherwise seems all too vulnerable
to the demands of politics).

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