The Trump administration is requiring that political appointees review all Environmental Protection Agency studies and data prior to public release, according to a report from the Associated Press. The controversial new rules, which will also apply to information displayed on the EPA’s website, have sparked outrage from scientists and journalists.
Oh hell no. https://t.co/aAHlsp1ZM3
— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) January 25, 2017
This undermines science at its core. Science should not be political. That, in essence, is what the peer review process is for. https://t.co/N4SQxvpTMS
— Stephen Stirling (@SStirling) January 25, 2017
“We’re taking a look at everything on a case-by-case basis, including the web page and whether climate stuff will be taken down,” said Doug Ericksen, the communications director for the EPA transition team, in an interview with the AP. “Obviously with a new administration coming in, the transition time, we’ll be taking a look at the web pages and the Facebook pages and everything else involved here at EPA.”
Former EPA employees reportedly told the AP that the Trump administration’s rules “far exceed” those imposed by previous administrations:
George Gray, the assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development during the Republican administration of President George W. Bush, said scientific studies were reviewed usually at lower levels and even when they were reviewed at higher levels, it was to give officials notice about the studies—not for editing of content.
“Scientific studies would be reviewed at the level of a branch or a division or laboratory,” said Gray, now professor of public health at George Washington University. “Occasionally things that were known to be controversial would come up to me as assistant administrator and I was a political appointee. Nothing in my experience would go further than that.”
The EPA’s scientific integrity policy, which was created under former President Barack Obama, mandates that research and actions be “grounded, at a most fundamental level, in sound, high quality science” that is “free from political interference or personal motivations.”