President Barack Obama has directed his science adviser, John Holdren, to develop a plan to ensure that scientific information is used properly in government decision-making.
Below is a statement by Francesca Grifo, senior scientist and director of Union of Concerned Scientists’s Scientific Integrity Program.
“We are thrilled that President Obama has taken a personal interest in depoliticizing the federal government’s use of science and is taking steps to address this challenge. Scientists are heartened by commitments from officials at all levels to improve transparency, strengthen protections for scientists, and seriously consider the science when crafting regulations that protect the public.
“The seeds have been planted, but they must be nurtured. President Obama has directed his science adviser to develop a plan for restoring scientific integrity to federal policymaking. The president has said the plan must make government decision-making more transparent and protect the rights of scientists so they’re able to do their jobs without interference. This plan should be both meaningful and practical, and the Office of Science and Technology must be empowered to carry it out.
“That said, no one could right the wrongs of the previous administration in only 100 days. Fundamentally changing how the government works is unimaginably complex. We recognize that restoring scientific integrity to federal policymaking will take time and persistence.
“Fundamental scientific integrity reform is critical to protecting our health, safety and environment. Because science is ever more essential to our nation’s most pressing policy decisions, it is increasingly subject to political spin and manipulation. The special interests that so successfully convinced the Bush administration to misuse scientific information have not gone away.
“In the meantime, there are issues that need immediate attention, including fully restoring science to Endangered Species Act decisions. And there are decisions that will have to be made over the next several months, such as how to update air quality standards. I’m pleased President Obama has signaled that scientific integrity is a high priority and we intend to ensure it stays on his administration’s punch list.”
The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit organization working for a healthy environment and a safer world. Founded in 1969, UCS is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., and has offices in Berkeley, Calif., Chicago and Washington, D.C.