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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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.


The Department of Energy withheld almost $100 million of appropriated funds from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The Agency funds high-risk energy research projects that have the potential to yield high rewards.


The Environmental Protection Agency hired a Republican public relations firm to take over tracking the agency’s press coverage. The firm is closely linked with a Republican opposition research group that had filed information requests against EPA employees who in their capacity as private citizens or union members had expressed concern about the agency’s direction.  


After Joshua Tree National Park’s Twitter account published a series of tweets based on climate change science, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke reprimanded the park’s superintendent and ordered the park to cease posting tweets on climate change.


Several months after undermining the independence of one of EPA’s main advisory committees, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt attacked the independence of another, the Science Advisory Board (SAB), by ordering that no scientists receiving EPA grant funding could serve on the SAB.

Three EPA scientists were prevented from speaking at a conference on the effects of climate change.


A leaked draft of the Department of Interior’s strategic plan for 2018-2022 eliminated all mention of climate change and instead prioritized energy production on public lands. 


John Konkus, a political appointee reviewing grant solicitations and proposals at the EPA, is cutting references to climate change—and canceling competitively awarded grants.