White House to probe whether Trump interfered in scientific research
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will form a task force to investigate possible interference in scientific research under the Trump administration, the office said in a letter Monday.
The task force will review whether policies intended to keep politics out of scientific policy decisions worked as intended, according to the letter, which went out to heads of all federal agencies.
“Restoring and safeguarding scientific integrity will require the participation and contribution of scientists from across government, who will bring their diverse perspectives to the endeavor, including: type and size of agency, scientific or technological discipline, stage of career, methodology, and personal and professional background,” the letter states.
Jane Lubchenco, the office’s deputy director for climate and the environment, told The New York Times, “We know that there were blatant attempts to distort, to cherry pick and disregard science — we saw that across multiple agencies.”
The announcement comes on the heels of long-standing allegations by career scientific officials that they were sidelined under the Trump presidency.
Joel Clement, a former Interior Department official, testified in 2019 that he was transferred from a role focusing on climate to accounting, while Maria Caffrey testified that the department pressured her to remove references to human causes of climate change from a report on how sea level increases would affect national parks.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced a similar move last week, with Administrator Michael Regan asking employees to convey “any items of concern” to scientific integrity personnel.
“Manipulating, suppressing, or otherwise impeding science has real-world consequences for human health and the environment,” Regan, said in an agencywide email Tuesday, according to the Times. “When politics drives science rather than science informing policy, we are more likely to make policy choices that sacrifice the health of the most vulnerable among us.”