Senate to Vote Soon on NASA Nominee, Science Group Ready to Hold Bridenstine Accountable to Confirmation Hearing Promises

Statement by Rachel Licker, Senior Climate Scientist

Published Apr 18, 2018

Washington (April 18, 2018)—The Senate is expected to vote as early as today on President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead NASA, Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.). During his November confirmation hearing he stated, and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) agrees, that science should drive NASA’s mission.

Below is a statement by Rachel Licker, senior climate scientist at UCS.

“I appreciate the commitments Rep. Bridenstine made in his confirmation hearing to address issues important to the scientific community that fall within NASA’s jurisdiction, including supporting the agency’s Earth science programs and using well-supported studies and surveys, like those by the National Academies of Sciences, to further guide agency work. I’m hopeful that if confirmed he will be able to fulfill the promises he made.

“Last year was a record-breaking one for U.S. disasters, including hurricanes and wildfires, which led to devastating consequences: loss of lives and homes, and exposure to dangerous chemicals. It also cost taxpayers at least $300 billion. NASA’s Earth Science Division is carrying out work to better forecast these kinds of events and help affected communities recover. They also produce information that gives farmers a better shot at making it through a drought. Now is not the time to reduce funding for this critical work. If confirmed, Rep. Bridenstine should be prepared to push back on the Trump Administration and Congress if asked to reduce funding for these and other important NASA missions.  

“Despite concerns around previous statements and actions related to climate change and Earth science, we fully expect Rep. Bridenstine to uphold NASA’s scientific integrity aims and the ability of agency scientists to freely talk about their work, including as it relates to climate change, without any fear of repercussions. We also expect him to follow ALL guidance outlined in the Decadal Survey released earlier this year, which will help us better understand the natural and man-made changes to our planet. UCS will be watching the agency’s work closely on behalf of our fellow scientists and will be ready to hold Bridenstine accountable.”

The 2017-2027 Decadal Survey for Earth Science and Applications from Space (ESAS 2017) will help shape science priorities and guide agency investments into the next decade. The survey—sponsored by NASA, NOAA, and the USGS—is driven by input from the scientific community and policy experts.