A science advocacy group has hit out at Donald Trump’s “abysmal” track record on science policy.
In a new report, the Union of Concerned Scientists surveyed scientists across 16 federal agencies, wrote that the president has been “undermining long-established processes for science to inform public policy”.
“a year and a half into the Trump administration, its record on science policy in several agencies and departments is abysmal,” the Washington DC-based organisation added.
The report said Mr Trump’s policies have presented “significant challenges related to the development and use of science to protect the public from environmental and public health threats”.
They cite beginning the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement, repealing the Clean Power Plan, staff reductions at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), hiring freezes across agencies, and a degree of censorship in public-facing government documents and websites - like the phrase “climate change” being eliminated - as some of the contributing factors to their conclusion.
The Independent had interviewed scientists who had been consulting with the EPA who had either resigned in protest to the administration’s policies or not had their contracts renewed in 2017. One said he did not want to be a “future prop for bad science”.
“Regulated industries possess increasing power to influence what science is used in policymaking, while public voices are increasingly excluded,” UCS wrote in the report.
In the case of the EPA consulting scientists, many had been replaced with industry professionals per the agency’s own admission.
Of the scientists surveyed, UCS found there was consistent “political interference in scientists’ work, low morale, decreased agency effectiveness, and dwindling resources.”
The report found the EPA and Department of Interior “far[ed] poorly” but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) were “doing relatively well,” according to the advocacy organisation.
“When federal scientists can’t carry out their work, it’s the public that suffers,” Charise Johnson, a UCS research analyst, said.