Controversial chairman of US House science committee to retire

Source: Nature

US Representative Lamar Smith, the controversial chairman of the US House of Representatives’ science committee, will retire when his term expires late next year.

Smith, a Texas Republican, has repeatedly questioned the science behind climate change, sought to pare back the US National Science Foundation’s (NSF) research portfolio and has launched dozens of probes into alleged wrongdoing by individual scientists and US government science agencies. Since taking the helm in 2013, the politician has transformed the science panel from a relatively deliberative group into an investigative weapon.

Under the rules of the House of Representatives, which limit committee chairmanships to six years, Smith would have been forced to relinquish his post on the science panel in 2019. That is one of the reasons why he decided against running for re-election, according to news reports; the other is the upcoming birth of his second grandchild. As the news of his retirement made the rounds, many scientists and environmentalists celebrated.