Beakers are seen in a science laboratory.
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The Republican war on science intensifies in the Trump era

Meet the new Environmental Protection Agency; it’s quite a bit worse than the most recent iteration of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, moved late on Wednesday to reject the scientific conclusion of the agency’s own chemical safety experts who under the Obama administration recommended that one of the nation’s most widely used insecticides be permanently banned at farms nationwide because of the harm it potentially causes children and farm workers.

The ruling by Mr. Pruitt, in one of his first formal actions as the nation’s top environmental official, rejected a petition filed a decade ago by two environmental groups that had asked that the agency ban all uses of chlorpyrifos. The chemical was banned in 2000 for use in most household settings, but still today is used at about 40,000 farms on about 50 different types of crops, ranging from almonds to apples.
The Rachel Maddow Show, 3/28/17, 9:00 PM ET

Trump White House lesson: Seek factual information elsewhere

Rachel Maddow looks at the facility with which the Donald Trump White House lied about their desire to produce a military spectacle as part of the inauguration ceremony, and notes the lesson that Trump’s White House is not a useful source for factual…
As the New York Times’ report explained, EPA scientists concluded last year that there are significant health consequences associated with exposure to the chemical. As of late last year, the agency had reviwed its research and “still concluded that the chemical should be banned.”

Chlorpyrifos’ maker, however, Dow Chemical, insisted the science is inconclusive – and Donald Trump’s EPA chief, as his wont, sided with the manufacturer.

Jim Jones, who ran the EPA’s chemical safety unit, told the Times the Trump administration is “ignoring the science that is pretty solid.”

Regrettably, there’s a lot of this going around. Consider some of the reports published over the last 24 hours:

* The New Republic published a deeply discouraging piece on the Republicans on the House Science Committee holding “a three-hour hearing on the merits of climate change science” yesterday, and the hearing featured “a cavalcade of falsehoods so relentless and seemingly rational that one might well need psychiatric counseling after having watched it.”

* Politico reported yesterday that a supervisor at the Energy Department’s international climate office “told staff this week not to use the phrases ‘climate change,’ ‘emissions reduction’ or ‘Paris Agreement’ in written memos, briefings or other written communication.”

* House Republicans yesterday passed something called the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act – or, HONEST Act – which is “a pernicious attempt to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from creating rules to protect the environment and public health.”

* And the White House reported today that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is nearly empty, and Team Trump hasn’t made much of an effort to fill its vacancies.

Vinton Cerf, a Google vice president and one of the chief architects of the Internet, told the New York Times, “The impression this leaves is that Trump isn’t interested in science and that scientific matters are a low priority at the White House.”

And while that’s dispiriting, I fear Cerf may be understating matters. If the president and other Republican leaders were indifferent towards science, that would be dispiriting. My concern, however, is that GOP leaders are overtly hostile towards science, evidence, and scientific scholarship in general.

I’m reminded of this Washington Post report out of Boston last month.
Hundreds of scientists and their supporters rallied in historic Copley Square on Sunday, demanding that the Trump administration accept empirical reality on issues such as climate change and highlighting the centrality of objective information to making policy.

“We did not politicize science,” said Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard science historian who spoke at the rally, which unfolded on a surprisingly warm February day that left the square filled with mud puddles from the melt of a recent blizzard. “We did not start this fight.”

“Our colleagues who have been attacked have not been attacked because they did something wrong,” Oreskes continued. “They have been attacked because they did something right” — namely, producing information that proved politically inconvenient.
For now, Republicans are choosing to reject scientists’ work, activism, and warnings. Here’s hoping the scientific community increases the volume accordingly.


The Republican war on science intensifies in the Trump era