To say that scientists are concerned about the future of science-based policy under the Trump administration is an understatement.
Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, says he started worrying about President Trump’s rhetoric about science during the campaign, and his concern continues to grow as the president makes efforts to roll back decades of accepted practices.
“When you turn away from science-based public policies and providing information to the public, that says to scientists, ‘you know the work that I do, isn’t going to have an impact on society.’ Rosenberg says.
Rosenberg worked for the National Marine Fisheries Service at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under different administrations, but he says what’s happening under Trump feels very different.
“It’s quite usual for people to say ‘Ok, we’re not starting new policy positions until the administration gets its feet under it,’” says Rosenberg. “But to say that we’re not going to release any science reports that hasn’t been vetted by political personnel, we don’t want any scientists speaking out, we want to know the names of scientists who’ve worked on particular kinds of issues — I’ve never seen that before.”
President Trump has pledged to cut back regulations by 75%, which many business groups say cripple industry growth by being too restrictive and costly.
That could drastically change agencies like the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency, who rely heavily on science-backed research.
Meanwhile, Congress is considering the Regulatory Accountability Act, which would restructure how federal agencies inform their policy decisions. Scientists and public health advocates worry that minimizing the role of science in these decisions will pose a significant threat to public health and safety.