Trump Administration Squashing Science Across the Environmental Agencies At All Levels

Photo: Evan Vucci, AP

An independent investigation looking into agency actions after “Sharpiegate” that was published yesterday determined that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s current political leadership violated the agency’s scientific integrity policy.

  • In addition, the extent of the Trump Administration’s efforts to squash science and even the very words “climate change” from research and policy papers is now clear according to The Washington Post and New York Times, which they obtained revealing emails that tell the story — repeatedly.
  • The Times found a pattern of efforts by managers even at mid-level in the Interior and Energy Departments telling employees that their scientific conclusions contained “red flag words” like the Paris Agreement or “anthropogenic” climate change.
  • The Post obtained emails from the NOAA showing the public’s dismay and anger after the President interfered with the forecast of Hurricane Dorian and agency leaders then backed him up.

Why This Matters:   President Bush’s (’43) Administration also tried to squash climate science and subsequently agencies like NOAA put in place strong scientific integrity policies to prevent such interference with agency research and its results.  This Administration then violated those very policies.  The NOAA emails show what happens when agencies politicize science — they quickly lose the public’s faith and trust.  Sad.

The War on Science at DOE and DOI

The Times story makes clear the issue with the science was climate change — pure and simple.  And even agency career employees were pressured to silence science that did not match the Administration’s political view that climate change is a hoax.  For example, The Times describes the Park Service leadership working to delete every mention of humanity’s role in climate change in a report on sea-level rise, and when its lead author objected, the report was released as drafted, but the author was then demoted before her position was eliminated. On several other occasions, scientists’ work was objected to by agency middle managers, and the conflict was resolved by the employees publishing their works as private citizens.

Loss of Faith in NOAA

After the President last September held up a chart on which he had altered the storm track of Hurricane Dorian with his sharpie, the public flooded NOAA with emails and complaints, according to The Post.  NOAA emails show that the President’s actions undermined the entire agency.  Leaders received emails from members of the public saying things like, “Going forward, I will have less faith in NOAA’s forecasts, because I won’t know how they might have been tainted by politics” and asking “How can I trust anything coming from NOAA anymore?”  The Post asked Gretchen Goldman, research director for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, whether this might hurt the agency’s credibility and she predicted that there may be issues with how much the public trusts NOAA hurricane forecasts this season, and also questions about whether agency scientists would dare to speak up if a political leader contradicted a forecast again.

Up Next

Rising Temperatures Could be a Game-Changer for Major League Baseball

Rising Temperatures Could be a Game-Changer for Major League Baseball

by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer According to a new study from Monmouth University, climate change could negatively impact America’s favorite pastime. Professor of Economics Eric Fesselmeyer analyzed 18,907 Major League Baseball (MLB) games and found that when temperatures were above 95 degrees Fahrenheit, umpires were more likely to make call pitches incorrectly. Fesselmeyer is […]

Continue Reading 458 words
Environmental Destruction Could Be Defined Like a War Crime

Environmental Destruction Could Be Defined Like a War Crime

By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Definitions matter and a new way to define ecocide could hold the earth’s biggest polluters accountable. A group of international lawyers have come up with a “historic” draft definition that they hope will be adopted by the International Criminal Court. If it is, ecocide would join just four other […]

Continue Reading 401 words
16% of World’s Largest Polluters Haven’t Set Climate Goals

16% of World’s Largest Polluters Haven’t Set Climate Goals

by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer A new study has found that a whopping 41 of the world’s 250 most polluting companies have yet to set goals for emissions reductions. Meanwhile, the rest are lagging on setting short-term 2030 goals. Experts say that this lack of commitment could jeopardize the world’s climate and prevent countries from creating effective […]

Continue Reading 419 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.