Friday, October 04, 2019

White House disbands invasive species advisory board

On Tuesday, the Trump administration will disband a federal advisory board focused on battling invasive species. The Interior Department's Invasive Species Advisory Committee has been in operation for more than a decade, Miranda Green reports for The Hill. One of ISAC's key functions is overseeing efforts to prevent invasive species from getting into the U.S. through ports of entry.

In a June order, President Trump called on federal agencies to cut their advisory boards by at least one-third by Sept. 30. He recommended cutting boars that are redundant, have fulfilled their objective, study an "obsolete" topic, or cost too much to operate, Green and Rebecca Beitsch report.

ISAC advisers learned in a May 2 phone call that the panel would be disbanded. "Committee members were told that the advisory council was ending because the budget for the National Invasive Species Council, which oversees the advisory committee, was expected to be halved," Green reports. "Congress last month passed a continuing resolution that funded NISC’s budget to its full $1.2 million level."

Several committee members told The Hill that their recommendations on preventing invasive species from entering the country often annoyed some invasive-species staff at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and described an atmosphere of "overt antagonism" from USDA staff that has grown into "pretty transparent hostility," Green reports.

ISAC advisers also expressed frustration with a lack of coordination among agencies responsible for preventing entry of invasive species, and said they worry that disbanding ISAC will result in more entering the U.S., Green reports.

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