Washington(CNN) A group of scientists is suing the Environmental Protection Agency over the agency's move to cut scientists from advisory boards and committees who were also receiving federal grants for studies.
In October, the EPA announced it would not allow scientists to serve on EPA boards if they were also receiving federal grants in an attempt to keep the advisers "independent and free from any real, apparent or potential interference with their ability to objectively serve as a committee member," an EPA news release said.
However, scientists involved in the lawsuit argue the announcement was unnecessary and violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
"The Directive is arbitrary, without any factual or legal grounding, and violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires advisory committees to be fairly balanced and protected from inappropriate influence by the appointing authority," the organization Protect Democracy said on its website.
Asked for comment, an EPA spokesman said the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation.
Protect Democracy is joined by the Union of Concerned Scientists in the lawsuit against the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, which was filed on Tuesday.
"This is an abuse of power and an affront to the scientific integrity of the EPA and the federal government," Joshua Goldman, senior legal analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a press release. "This directive singles out scientists from the nonprofit and academic sector -- recognized experts in their field who want to serve the public -- and asks them to choose between public service and their scientific work."