No More Room for Science at the EPA

Austin Lombard
In Motion Staff Writer

The Environmental Protection Agency, under the leadership of Scott Pruitt, has no room for science or the people that practice it. On Oct. 22, three scientists scheduled to speak about climate change the next day had their speaking appearances canceled without warning in a blatant act of scientific censorship.

On Oct. 31, the agency’s own scientists and academics serving on the EPA advisory boards were stripped of their advisory positions to be replaced by longtime representatives and lobbyists for industries that stand to profit directly from the loosening of environmental regulations.

In a tragically unironic attempt to avoid conflict of interest — Pruitt is going as far as to also institute rules stating that no member of the EPA that receives federal grant money shall be allowed to participate on advisory boards.

The divide between policy and scientific evidence is further highlighted by the differences between environmental policy priorities of curbing environmental regulations on a large scale and the findings of an extensive scientific report released on Nov. 3.

That report was a collaborative effort between the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Interior, State, Transportation, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Smithsonian Institution, the Agency of International Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency itself.

The report summarizes: “Based on extensive evidence, it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming of the earth since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

The report goes on to say that “Continued growth in CO2 emissions over this century and beyond would lead to an atmospheric concentration not experienced in tens to hundreds of millions of years.”

Compare this conclusion, based on scientific research, to that of Kathleen Hartnett White, nominated to lead the Council on Environmental Quality: “Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the gas of life,” based on the overwhelming evidence that “…Our flesh, blood and bones are built of carbon.”

Here’s another important quote from our pending Council on Environmental Quality leader, delivered during her Senate confirmation hearing in November: “I am not a scientist, but in my personal capacity I have many questions that remain unanswered by current climate policy. We need to have a more precise explanation of the human role and the natural role.

      Apparently, not being a scientist is now a qualifying attribute when it comes to making statements about science. Never mind the 15-chapter report about the human role and the natural role, after all… our bones are made of carbon.

Pruitt claims that climate science has not yet been subject to “a robust, meaningful debate.” Is this what “robust, meaningful debate” looks like? Muzzling and censorship of scientists at a moment’s notice? Claiming that his agency’s scientists have a conflict of interest in order to silence them, while simultaneously acting as though representatives and lobbyists for industries that must comply with its regulations somehow do not?

The time has come for deniers of climate change to stop resorting to intellectual cowardice. Instead of shuttering speaking appearances of agency scientists and demoting them from advisory positions, perhaps it is time for their opponents to step into the light and present their own evidence.

Instead of complaining that the explanation is not “precise enough” when confronted with evidence, perhaps it is time for the deniers to conduct their own precise research, before they go about modifying policy.