Democrats Accuse Interior of Censoring, Altering Science

House Democrats accuse Trump administration of not being a ‘big fan’ of science

A researcher asked the House Natural Resources Committee July 25 to support greater protections for federal scientists after a climate change report she wrote for the National Park Service became caught in internal agency wrangling over climate change.

Publication of Maria Caffrey’s report was delayed for more than a year as the National Park Service attempted to scrub it of references to human-caused climate change, she said. After news outlets picked up her story, the Park Service published the report unaltered in 2018.

Caffrey said she filed a complaint with Interior’s Office of the Inspector General.

“It’s no secret that this administration is not a big fan of science—especially science that has overwhelmingly determined that climate change is caused by humans,” Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Natural Resources’ chairman,said at the hearing.

House Democrats held the hearing as scientists, environmental groups, and former government officials accuse the Trump administration of disregarding science, especially research on climate change and the toxicity of industrial chemicals, as it rolls back environmental regulations.

The Interior Department declined to testify at the hearing, Grijalva said. 

Interior Responds

“The Department of the Interior diligently works to accommodate congressional invitations to testify,” Interior Department press secretary Molly Block said in a July 25 email. “In 2019, we have participated in 59 of the 62 (or 95 percent) congressional legislative and oversight hearings that the department has been invited, providing over 65 witnesses for committees.”

“Our scientific integrity policy is defined as the adherence to ethical and professional standards that lead to objective, clear, and reproducible science. We appreciate the committee’s interest in this shared commitment,” Block said.

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), the panel’s top Republican, called the hearing “cute,” and said it’s inappropriate because any science-related legislation that would come of the hearing testimony would be taken up by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

The science committee is addressing the issue with the Democratic-sponsored legislation that would protect scientific integrity at federal agencies, but it has no GOP support.

The Scientific Integrity Act (H.R. 1709 and S. 775), sponsored in the House by Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and in the Senate by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), would prohibit the federal government from suppressing agency scientific research and intimidating or coercing any individual to censor scientific findings.

Among other provisions, it would also allow government scientists to speak to reporters without prior permission from superiors.

By:  Bobby Magill
Source: Bloomberg