September 17, 2020 | News | No Comments
A coalition of watchdog and advocacy organizations on Thursday released a new report detailing the Trump administration’s nearly two-year war on science and how Congress can fight back.
Produced by 16 groups including the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), Defenders of Wildlife, and Greenpeace, Protecting Science at Federal Agencies: How Congress Can Help (pdf) argues that while “scientific integrity at federal agencies has eroded” under President Donald Trump, “Congress has the power to halt and repair damage from federal agencies’ current disregard for scientific evidence.”
“It’s so impressive,” UCS’s Michael Halpern wrote in a blog post on Thursday, “that all of these organizations with desperate interests have come together because they recognize the harm Trump administration actions have had on topics as diverse as workplace injuries, reproductive health, the Census, chemical contamination, tipped workers, endangered species, climate change, and air pollution.”
As the report notes, “Federally sponsored scientific research and technology development have brought us the ability to explore outer space, convert sunlight into electricity, build super-computers, predict weather patterns, manufacture self-driving vehicles, and use assisted reproductive technologies to give birth.”
“When political interference occurs—such as politically motivated censorship, misrepresentation of scientific findings, or the suppression of the free flow of information from the government to the public—public health and well-being suffer.”
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However, it continues, “when political interference occurs—such as politically motivated censorship, misrepresentation of scientific findings, or the suppression of the free flow of information from the government to the public—public health and well-being suffer.”
To battle the administration’s attacks on science, the report calls on federal legislators to pass protective laws as well as reveal abuses of scientific integrity and increase accountability for political appointees by holding hearings, requesting investigations, and utilizing congressional subpoena authority.
From the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to the National Park Service (NPS) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the report points to examples of bad behavior across the federal government to identify six broad issues, and offers suggestions for tackling them.
“In several recent proposed rules, agencies have failed to uphold their responsibilities to consider relevant evidence and provide the public with necessary information,” the report points out. To combat this, it suggests not only hearings, probes, and subpoenas, but also using the appropriations process to ensure that funds are spent as intended, and considering whether political appointees have a history of undermining science.
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