Lois Henry writes this week about the reappointment of Dr. John Froines to California’s Scientific Review Panel on Toxic Air Contaminants. Pacific Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit several years ago on behalf of construction and trucking groups (Brown v. Adams) challenging the nomination and appointment practice for the Panel. (In a nutshell, the appointing authorities had been letting many panelists stay over on expired terms). As Ms. Henry recounts, that lawsuit resulted in a much-needed overhaul of the membership of the Panel, which included the removal of Dr. Froines. Unfortunately, Dr. Froines’ removal caused such a stink in the environmental community that the Speaker of the Assembly, Jon Perez, put Froines back on the Panel, and the good doctor has now been reappointed as Chairman.
So far as I can tell, Dr. Froines’ latest appointment is legal. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. Ms. Henry’s piece makes a powerful case against Dr. Froines and his alleged politicization of California’s toxic substance regulation. Whether one credits the charge or not, I think that fair-minded folks of all political stripes would agree that it’s a good thing to have fresh faces and new ideas on public panels. Dr. Froines has been on the Scientific Review Panel for decades. It’s time for him to step aside and let other people have a chance to serve.