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Science Group Report Says Trump Administration And Allies Have Harmed Public Health And Safety In First Six Months

A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists opens with the assertion that “a clear pattern has emerged over the first six months of the Trump presidency---multiple actions by his administration are eroding the ability of science, facts, and evidence to inform policy decisions, leaving us more vulnerable to threats to public health and the environment.”

The report, entitled “Sidelining Science Since Day One”, reminds readers that while political interference in science is not new, it has “escalated markedly” under the Trump administration. The report provides an inventory of the adverse science actions and impacts that have occurred to date.

Taken from the report, these are:

Sidelining independent science advice.

The Trump administration has weakened federal advisory committees that provide scientific advice to the government.

Appointing conflicted individuals to scientific leadership positions.

President Trump has appointed to the highest positions in government individuals with little science background and with strong ties to the industries they are charged with regulating.

Leaving key science positions vacant.

President Trump has taken an unusually long time to fill many high-level science positions, signaling the low priority his administration places on science.

Revoking science-based safeguards.

Aided and abetted by Congress, President Trump has allowed politics to supersede science by signing an unprecedented 13 congressional resolutions rolling back science-based protections, including safe drinking water standards and safeguards to prevent worker exposure to harmful chemicals.

Misrepresenting climate science and rolling back climate change safeguards.

Attacking science-based policies and communications on preparing for and mitigating climate change is a clear focus for the Trump administration. Officials have misrepresented climate science, removed climate-related content from several government communications, and proposed sharp reductions in climate research.

Weakening science-based pollution standards without scientific justification.

The administration has delayed or repealed several science-based pollution standards designed to protect public health, including protections against mercury, air toxics, and coal wastewater, without replacing them with new, scientifically defensible standards.

Undermining protections from hazards at work and home.

The Trump administration has delayed many science-based rules intended to keep communities safe from dangerous chemical spills and to safeguard workers from harmful toxins, with little to support halts except for letters and petitions from companies or industry trade associations.

Altering scientific content on federal websites.

The scientific content of federal agency webpages, including those of the Enviromental Protection Agency, the State Department, and the Department of Energy, has been altered or deleted since January, particularly in regard to climate change science.

Reducing public access to data.

The Trump administration has reduced public access to scientific data and information. The administration also has stopped collecting certain data for programs that benefit disadvantaged groups. And it has withdrawn requests to industry to supply data that would help inform public health and environmental protections.

Restricting communication of scientists.

The Trump administration is making it more difficult for government scientists to speak publicly about their work, as well as about misconduct within an agency. It has restricted communication with Congress, placed vague gag orders on agency staff, and failed to affirm the ability of scientists to share their expertise publicly.

Creating a hostile environment for scientific staff.

Evidence is growing that a culture of fear is increasing at government agencies, undermining scientific research and communication. Scientists are speaking to the media anonymously out of fear of retaliation; some are afraid to utter the words climate change.

To counter the current pattern, the report recommends scientists articulate the importance of science, and sound the alarm when science is misused. It urges Congress to protect whistle blowers and federal scientists and to hold the administration accountable for its anti-science actions. It makes a similar recommendation about accountability for journalists and urges them to seek out scientists to maintain communications between them.

To read the full report, visit:  ■


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