Biden administration calls on agencies to better guard against political influence on science
A White House task force on Tuesday called on federal agencies to increase safeguards against political influence in scientific research, citing what it said was the Trump administration’s history of such influence.
In the report, the White House’s Scientific Integrity Task Force said scientific integrity violations are “small in number compared to the magnitude of the federal government’s scientific enterprise,” but that they can do disproportionate harm to public trust in government research and science in general.
“Protecting scientific integrity is essential to the progress of science and its application to a broad set of economic and societal objectives supported by Federal Government action (e.g., advancing public health, addressing climate change, ensuring food production, and protecting national and energy security),” the report states. “The scientific and technical information that is used in Federal decision-making around these and other issues must reflect rigorous and independent research that is free from suppression, manipulation, and other interference.”
The Biden administration identified the removal of political influence from scientific research as an early priority, with the president creating the task force within 10 days of his inauguration.
Environmentalists and climate scientists were broadly critical of climate science policies under former President Trump, who had repeatedly falsely asserted human-caused climate change was a myth.
Individual instances included an incident in which Trump used a Sharpie to expand a projection of Hurricane Dorian’s trajectory to include Alabama, with the White House later pushing for the National Weather Service to amend a tweet contradicting it.
In another case that allegedly began before the Trump presidency and continued throughout it, whistleblowers from within the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention have alleged their superiors altered safety assessments for new compounds to reduce their estimated risks. EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced in March that the agency will investigate any possible political interference within the agency during the previous administration.
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