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The UCS Science Network in Action

Stories of citizen scientists making a difference

The Science Network provides many ways to use your expertise for the common good, including speaking to the media, delivering testimony, signing on to expert letters to elected officials, conducting research and environmental impact assessments, and serving on federal advisory committees.

Here are some recent examples of Science Network members making a difference:

Providing Informative Testimony for Clean Car Standards

Network members lent a critical voice in advocating tough new standards that will shape the future of clean cars for decades to come. More than 250 scientists, engineers, and economists signed letters alerting the California Air Resources Board to the need for change and verifying the practicability of the proposed amendments. In addition, more than 450 experts in climate science, economics, engineering, public health, and other relevant disciplines submitted instructive comments during the public comment period, and some gave compelling testimony at hearings in Detroit, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, which led to coverage in the local media.

The resulting standards—which will nearly double the fuel economy of new cars and light trucks by 2025—represent one of the most aggressive actions ever taken to reduce U.S. oil use and global warming emissions, and are a huge step on the path toward halving the country’s projected oil consumption within 20 years.

Bringing an Expert Voice to Renewable Energy Standards

More than 200 Science Network members in Michigan—scientists, engineers, economists, and technical and health professionals—signed a letter in support of raising the state’s renewable electricity standard to 25 percent by 2025. UCS also hosted a skills-based workshop to help energy experts communicate effectively with the public, the media, and decision makers. Workshop participants then spoke at a series of public forums, helped the media and public distinguish science from misleading propaganda, and were interviewed by or wrote op-eds in some of Michigan’s most widely followed news outlets, including the Detroit Free Press and the local National Public Radio affiliate. By raising public awareness of the benefits, these network members laid a critical foundation for future renewable energy advancements. 

Advancing a Science-Based Understanding of Antibiotic Overuse

More than 150 Science Network experts in pharmacology, microbiology, and veterinary science published a statement warning policy makers of the increasing risk of resistance to antibiotic drugs fueled by the widespread overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture, and urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Congress to work together to end the practice. With its credible rebuttal of the industry’s often-cited claim that there is a lack of scientific consensus on the issue, this statement has proven a valuable tool for journalists, public health officials, and policy advocates.

Shaping Research and Educating Congress on Endangered Species and Forests

When policymakers proposed legislation threatening to repeal the Lacey Act—a U.S. law that protects endangered species, tropical forests, and American jobs—the Science Network’s forestry and ecology experts came to its defense. Members helped shape the UCS report Logging and the Law: How the U.S. Lacey Act Helps Reduce Illegal Logging in the Tropics, which addresses the significant environmental, economic, and societal costs of illegal logging and the need for legal protections. UCS also conducted an online seminar about the issue for network members to then educate their congressional representatives about the implications of weakening the Lacey Act. Their efforts helped defeat the attempt to repeal the law.

Bringing Expertise to the FDA—Without Conflicts of Interest

The Science Network proved Congress and the FDA wrong when they claimed it is too difficult to recruit experts with no financial conflicts of interest to serve on the scientific advisory committees that assess the safety and efficacy of drugs and medical devices. UCS found many qualified scientists and medical doctors in the network who have no conflicts of interest, and we have formally nominated more than 60 to serve on FDA advisory committees.

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