Top Ten Deeply Troubling Signs for Federal Science Policy

Deeply troubling signs for federal science  and science policy are becoming increasingly evident.

  • Climate change skeptic Scott Pruitt now leads the Environmental Protection Agency and has announced that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.
  • Side-stepping science entirly, the Trump administration’s 42-page proposal for repealing former President Obama’s Clean Water Rule (WOTUS) is largely built on a 2009 split decision by the Supreme Court on federal regulation of swear words on television.
  • President Trump signed an executive order nullifying much of former President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan. As part of that order, Trump directed federal agencies to stop using the social cost of carbon—the estimated economic cost of emitting 1 ton of carbon pollution into the atmosphere—in their cost-benefit analyses.
  • President Trump has kept many critical science positions vacant since he took office in January. After inauguration, Trump issued a hiring freeze for the federal government, leaving more than 350 positions at the EPA empty, including more than 100 key science jobs. To date, he has not appointed a chief science adviser or staffed the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, which is now completely unstaffed as of today (Friday June 29), when the the three remaining Obama administration staffers departed.
  • A House appropriations subcommittee advanced a $37.5 billion energy and water bill that would slash funding for renewable and efficiency programs and eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
  • With the shutdown of the Federal Helium Reserve, a major source of helium that has existed for nearly a century to the US will no longer be available. The unique qualities of helium have made it an irreplaceable part of our medical, space, and defense industries in a variety of applications, including MRI machines, semiconductors, and air-to-air missile guidance.
  • On June 19, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, remarked in an interview that carbon dioxide is not the primary driver of global climate change — a statement at odds with the scientific consensus on the subject.
  • Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has rolled back federal standards requirements for schools  to reduce the amount of calories, fat and sodium in their cafeterias and increase offerings of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and nonfat milk to the roughly 32 million students who receive federally subsidized meals.
  • EPA Administrator Pruitt has rejected decades of science to keep the pesticide Chlorpyrifos on the market
  • Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has ended the federal government’s Obama-era moratorium on coal-mining leases on federal land. The coal from federal lands, when burned, also accounts for 13 percent of the nation’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, or 769 million tons annually

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