War on Science, EPA edition
UPDATE: Science has a piece fully explaining this latest expulsion of academic science from the EPA. And Ars Technica discusses this with a bit of different context.
Some time ago, GG suggested that what many were taking as a “war on science” was more a war on particular parts of science, that the offenders were in fact exploiting science where it was financially remunerative and opposing it where it wasn’t. But actions at the Environmental Protection Agency really look like outright war on science, period.
Consider these actions:
- Reconstituting science panels to only have “committee members [who] will be financially independent from the agency.” Um, so experts who are interested in pollution and are supported by…who is left? maybe industry? If this isn’t the fox watching the henhouse, GG doesn’t know what is. Why would the EPA not use the science that it has paid for, or trust the scientists that it funded? EPA grants are to determine if something is a problem, or to find remedies for known problems; I don’t think there has ever been an RFP saying “We seek to pay somebody to justify a major government intervention in the private sector.” This is so brazenly obvious that it is hard to find a justification–except for those who feared something like this would happen when typical reappointments to advisory boards were not made.
- Preventing agency scientists from speaking at a conference [this is more old-school; banning various federal scientists from speaking has happened before–which doesn’t make it any less anti-science]
- Putting a political appointee in charge of RFPs and grant awards. Nothing says “science” like a stamp of approval from a politician who has advised staff that certain words beginning with the letter “c” are no longer allowed.
- Preventing grant money from going to areas that had representation in Congress oppose other administration legislation.
It is hard to look at these actions and see them as anything other than ostrich-like in trying to avoid hearing things some don’t want to hear. These kind of blanket rules seem designed to stifle scientific participation in any aspect of the EPA’s work.