Attacks on Science

The Trump administration and 115th Congress have been actively dismantling science-based health and safety protections, sidelining scientific evidence, and undoing recent progress on scientific integrity.

We've seen this movie before. And we know how to fight back. We're standing up for science. We're inviting scientists to securely share information on scientific integrity abuses. And we're encouraging our supporters to watchdog this administration and Congress, as we did during the George W. Bush administration and the Barack Obama administration.

Below is a running list of attacks on science—disappearing data, silenced scientists, and other assaults on scientific integrity and science-based policy. The list provides a representative sample of threats to the federal scientific enterprise.

Beyond this list, many other moves by the president and Congress degrade the environment for science and scientists in this country. For example, the president’s Muslim ban hurts science and scientists, including those working for the federal government and the president’s rescinding transgender protections is damaging to the ability of all young budding scientists to reach their full potential. These actions are also important to document, and we continue do so on the UCS blog.

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In December the Trump administration proposed a new rule that specifically allows employers to control and distribute tip income as they see fit, taking away control of tip money from the employees—food servers, baristas, and many other hardworking people—who earned it. Now it has come to light that the Department of Labor, which proposed the rule, has suppressed data and analysis from the department’s own experts showing the economic impacts of this rule.

An EPA analysis showing that Congress’s proposed “HONEST Act” would cost the agency more than $250 million per year was buried by Administrator Pruitt’s office. The analysis, conducted by experts at the EPA, was to be sent on to the congressional budget office (CBO) from Administrator Pruitt’s office, but it never made it there.

The Department of Energy is terminating the Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiment – Tropics (NGEE-Tropics) research project about seven years ahead of schedule.

The fisheries office of the NOAA decided to disregard their science-based quota requirements and extend the recreational fishing season of the red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Trump administration rejected a cost-benefit analysis on the economic impact of refugees because it clashed with the administration’s political position on the subject.

The Department of Interior (DOI) has directed political appointees to begin reviewing discretionary grants to make sure that they align with the priorities of the Trump administration. The directive is being strictly enforced. 

The Trump administration rescinded a 2015 Bureau of Land Management rule that set standards for well construction, wastewater management, and chemical disclosure around hydraulic fracturing on public lands.  

A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) study aimed at investigating how the Department of Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement could improve its inspections of offshore oil and gas development was halted by DOI. Officials at NASEM said they were not given a reason why the study was halted.

On December 15, 2017, news broke that the Trump administration was prohibiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from using the words “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based” in documents being prepared for next year’s budget.

Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, repeatedly stated that the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul would pay for itself through economic growth and that a Treasury Department analysis would provide evidence of this. However, the administration never produced such an analysis.