Science abuse and neglect
Something wonderful—and frightening—happened at the US Environmental Protection Agency this week: The EPA’s panel of science advisers pushed back on the administration’s rollback of environmental regulations, saying the EPA’s proposed changes conflict with science.
This is wonderful, because the EPA’s Science Advisory Board—a board of outside experts—is dominated by scientists appointed by President Trump and has been packed with industry representatives. Yet even with this administration-friendly makeup, the Advisory Board issued four draft reports critical of the EPA’s proposed regulations that:
· Weaken federal protection for wetlands and waterways
· Weaken automobile fuel-efficiency standards
· Change the evaluation of air pollution from coal-fired power plants
· Limit the scientific studies the agency will use in writing future regulations
This is frightening, because it exposes the anti-science bias in the US agency that is charged with protecting our environment, our health, and the world our children will inherit.
At the same time, the work of the Advisory Board itself has been undermined by the agency Congress directed it to advise. The Advisory Board has encountered difficulty in obtaining information from the EPA, met less frequently than in prior years, and has encountered a generally hostile response to its work. EPA advisors warn that rollbacks clash with science, Washington Post, p.3, Jan. 1, 2020.
As a science fiction fan, I run across many, many stories where science is the villain: a scientist “goes too far” and “plays God” with disastrous results. But currently, environmental disasters are looming because of deliberate neglect of science.
Science is the world’s best hope for understanding the consequences of our actions. We neglect it at the world’s peril.
You can read the Science Advisory Board’s reports at: