Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt has dismissed half of a key 18-member scientific-review board, citing his desire to make a “clean break” with the Obama administration. The cuts are the first step in the agency’s new effort to change the process for evaluating regulations under the Trump administration. The Board of Scientific Counselors advises the agency’s scientific arm about whether certain research has sufficient integrity. Each of the members who were cut were reportedly nearing the end of a three-year term, but those terms are frequently renewed rather than ended entirely. J.P. Freire, an EPA spokesman, said “no one has been fired or terminated” but that Pruitt just decided he’d bring in new advisers. “We’re not going to rubber-stamp the last administration’s appointees. Instead, they should participate in the same open competitive process as the rest of the applicant pool,” Freire said. “This approach is what was always intended for the board, and we’re making a clean break with the last administration’s approach.” The news came as a surprise to the dismissed members, who were told in January that they would be kept on for another term.