Washington (July 20, 2017)—Six months ago today, Donald Trump took the oath of office as the 45th president of the United States. Since then, numerous actions by his administration and its congressional allies have undermined the vital role science plays in policy decisions, according to a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
The report, “Sidelining Science Since Day One: How the Trump Administration Has Harmed Public Health and Safety in Its First Six Months,” analyzes the ways the federal government uses science to make policy and how the Trump administration has opened the door to new levels of political interference in the process. The report also explains the real-world consequences of ignoring science when making policy, including the threat posed to environmental, public health and workplace protections.
“There’s a clear pattern here,” said Gretchen Goldman, research director for the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS and a report co-author “This administration and its allies in Congress are pushing science aside, and in the process, they’re putting the public at risk.”
The report documents that the Trump administration has dismissed key scientific advisors, left critical science positions vacant, restricted federal scientists’ ability to speak publicly, denied public access to taxpayer-funded information, and ignored scientific evidence in order to delay or roll back vital public safeguards. In many cases, they have appointed officials with close ties to the industries they will oversee and a record of attacking the very agencies they have been put in charge of.
“If we’re not using science and the public interest to make policy, these decisions will be made on behalf of industry lobbyists,” said Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy and a former regional administrator for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service. “The federal government can’t make good decisions without good independent science, but this administration has created a hostile environment for research.”
From weather monitoring to food safety inspection to efforts to fight epidemic diseases, federal science matters—and undermining it puts Americans at risk.
UCS is mobilizing scientists and the public to stand up for science and challenge the administration when it ignores the facts or promotes disinformation. To encourage federal scientists to speak out, the organization has established a new legal protection fund for federal employees who help expose censorship and other abuses of scientific integrity.
“Our health, our economy, and America’s leadership in the world all depend on science,” said UCS President Ken Kimmell, former commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. “Science plays a crucial role in a healthy democracy, but this administration has taken a wrecking ball to it. The actions they’ve taken in just six months have already put people at risk, but the damage they do could last for years to come.”