February 25, 2019

U.S. House Hearing Will Expose Industry Disinformation and Its Consequences

Statement by Genna Reed, Union of Concerned Scientists

WASHINGTON (February 25, 2019)—On Tuesday, Feb. 26, the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing to examine the tactics used by companies and industry front groups to undermine science and mislead the public. This hearing will open up a long-overdue conversation in Congress about the ways disinformation harms public health and the climate, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Genna Reed, the lead science and policy analyst for the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS.

“When unethical companies deny or attack science, there are real consequences. From the tobacco industry to manufacturers of pesticides to the NFL, there’s a pervasive and powerful pattern of companies using tactics of disinformation to deny the truth, exposing the rest of us to avoidable and unacceptable risks.

“Parents have a right to know what’s in the products they buy for their children. People who live near chemical facilities should be able to get information about the risks they’re being exposed to. Workers should be able to trust that their employers are providing a safe workplace. And we all need to know the truth about climate change despite the fossil fuel industry’s enormous investments in denying science and derailing science-based policies.

“Many of the political appointees in the Trump administration come right from the industries they’re now charged with regulating—and they’ve played key roles in using disinformation and political influence to shield companies from accountability. Now, they’re using their positions inside the federal government to continue this abuse of the truth, all with the clear goal of delaying or dismantling public health and safety protections. Congress needs to use its oversight powers to expose and counter inappropriate industry influence and attacks on science—and this hearing is an important step.”

In 2017, UCS released the Disinformation Playbook, an interactive website exposing corporate misconduct and attacks on science. Among the witnesses testifying at the hearing is former professional football player Chris Borland, who helped launch the Disinformation Playbook and has spoken out about the NFL’s efforts to hide the impacts of repeated head injuries on players.

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.