June 21, 2018

White House Reorganization Plan Sidelines Science, Compromises Health and Safety Without Achieving Efficiency

Statement by Mike Lavender, Union of Concerned Scientists

WASHINGTON (June 21, 2018)—The White House today released a federal government reorganization plan that includes directives to cut and consolidate environmental cleanup programs and move the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) into a rebranded Department of Health and Human Services. The administration also wants to merge the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agency charged with developing evidence-based dietary guidelines that are applied to dozens of programs across the federal government, with the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services (FNS).

Below is a statement by Mike Lavender, senior Washington representative at UCS.

“Administration officials have been promoting the idea of having states address their own environmental problems. They call it ‘cooperative federalism.’ But this reorganization plan—as well as a slew of proposed budget cuts, executive orders rolling back safeguards, and anti-science agency actions—makes it clear that the Trump White House wants to hinder state and local authorities from making evidence-based decisions to protect health and safety.

“States simply do not have the resources, funding or support to ensure that polluters comply with clean air and water standards. In particular, communities near Superfund sites—already underserved—will bear an even greater burden because states will have fewer federal resources to safeguard their residents.

“Similarly, merging FNS and CNPP—which serve distinctly different purposes—would hamper efficiency at both agencies. It would also undermine scientific integrity at the CNPP, which is responsible for reviewing and compiling the best available scientific literature on nutrition, developing measures of dietary quality, and issuing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy. At a time when more than 117 million Americans—half of all adults—are living with one or more preventable, diet-related chronic diseases, the role that CNPP plays in protecting public health has never been more critical.

“Research also shows that SNAP is one of the nation’s most cost-effective safety net programs, lifting millions out of poverty in rural and urban communities alike. The White House proposal offers little evidence that moving SNAP to a newly created Department of Health and Public Welfare would improve the program’s efficacy.

“Congress should reject all of these proposals.”

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.