Can the House Save Science from the Trump Purge?
The Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives has a weighty agenda – from policy reform to oversight of the Trump administration. Given all that the House Democrats have on their plate, urging them to restore policy rationality by making the support of science-based policy central to their strategy might seem like a prosaic ask, but it's critically important.
Without science as the lodestar for government policymaking, anything goes, which is exactly the problem. As the Union of Concerned Scientists documented in a recent report, the Trump administration has been marginalizing science and isolating federal scientists for the past two years. Trump appointees have systematically undercut the science-based policies and regulations forged to protect human health and the environment. This has opened the door to irrational policymaking aimed at benefiting the industries and special interests to which these appointees are linked.
The bipartisan design of our foundational environmental laws, most from the late 1960s and '70s, grounded environmental regulation in science in an attempt to put their implementation above the political fray. For decades, those laws worked reasonably well because their implementation relied heavily on objective information yielded by science, rather than a partisan agenda.
Some commentators have traced the "war on science" to George W. Bush's presidency. As a federal attorney in public service at the time, I can attest to that administration's costly policy of denying human-caused climate change. Whatever
CPR's Shapiro Takes on the Politicization of Science in North Carolina
by Brian Gumm | August 18, 2016
In a new op-ed published in the Raleigh News & Observer, Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholar and Board Member Sidney Shapiro examines two recent examples of politics getting in the way of protecting people and the environment in North Carolina. As he explains, the politicization of science by state officials has serious ramifications for the ability of agencies and scientists to safeguard residents from toxic chemicals, rising sea levels, and more. The following is an excerpt from the op-ed:
CPR Scholars Weigh in on 'Secret Science Reform Act'
A group of eight CPR Member Scholars today submitted a letter to Reps. David Schweikert and Suzanne Bonamici, the chair and ranking member, respectively, of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's Subcommittee on the Environment. The letter levels a series of powerful criticisms at Schweikert's proposed "Secret Science Reform Act," yet another in a series of bills from House Republicans aimed at gumming up efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency to exercise authority granted it by Congress to
The Age of Greed: Science Drowned by Politics
Last week, a reporter asked me, “How’s science doing these days?,” “Science” is an impossibly big category, of course, but the answer was easy: “Badly,” I said. Exhibit number one is climate change. The frightening truth is that no fewer than 84 percent of scientists in this country surveyed by Pew say that the earth is warming because of human activity; 70 percent describe the problem as “very serious.” Although much is made of the supposed “dissenters” on the issue, no
Draft Scientific Integrity Policies Due from Agencies; Progress Unclear
Today marks 90 days since the last milestone in the White House’s push toward improvements in federal agencies’ scientific integrity policies. Agencies that have made progress in this time ought to release their draft plans and open them to public comment. From an outsider’s perspective, there hasn’t been much progress to evaluate recently. It’s something we’ve gotten used to—after an initial push, this administration has not presented much of a sense of urgency in its efforts to set up new scientific integrity
The White House's New Science Integrity Policy: A First Assessment
The Obama Administration’s newly released science policy memo is an important and largely positive development in the effort to protect science and scientists from politics. In particular, the policy takes aim at many of the abuses of science and scientists that defined the Bush era. It’s particularly encouraging, for example, that the policy calls on political appointees to take a hands-off approach to science. That said, in several areas, the policy could have, and should have, gone farther. The tension between science
'Bending Science' Wins Prestigious Award
A little bragging is in order this morning. Last week, CPR Member Scholars Tom McGarity and Wendy Wagner won the University of Texas’s Hamilton Book Author Award for their book, Bending Science: How Special Interests Corrupt Public Health Research. The award is given to the author(s) of what is judged the best book by University of Texas faculty in the previous year. Published by Harvard University Press, Bending Science takes a hard look at the ways and extent to which scientific data
CPR Scholars' Letter on OMB Intervention in EPA Science Programs
CPR President Rena Steinzor and board member Robert Glicksman sent a letter today to White House Science Adviser John Holdren and OIRA Administrator Cass Sunstein regarding OMB's role in EPA science decisions. The letter concerns two recent episodes involving OMB that we wrote about this week: one regarding the EPA's Endocrine Disrputor Screening Program (EDSP) and the other regarding the agency's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). From the letter: Both of these episodes pre-date Professor Sunstein’s confirmation and may well
A New Look at Science in Regulatory Policy
On Wednesday, the Bipartisan Policy Center's Science for Policy Project released its report (press release, full report) on the use of science in regulation-making. I was on the panel and thus am a bit biased, but I think the report makes a terrific contribution. It significantly narrows the range of positions that can be credibly debated about the appropriate level of oversight needed to ensure the quality of regulatory science. At the same time, it introduces some important new ideas
Time for Clean Science, No?
On March 9, President Obama announced a science integrity initiative aimed at taking the politics out of science. In his memorandum that day, he laid out the broad principles and instructed the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to “develop recommendations for Presidential action designed to guarantee scientific integrity throughout the executive branch” - and to have the recommendations within 120 days. John Holdren has since been confirmed as OSTP Director. Yesterday, Tuesday July 7, was