A science journal describes how evil Trump is destroying EPA


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If you have no idea why we have Trump, and why we are likely to get more of him, read this article from the science journal Nature. It is a carefully written screed, written entirely from the point of view of those hostile to Trump and his effort to rein in the EPA’s regulatory culture. No one is interviewed to give the Trump perspective, and even if some had been, the author is so certain that Trump is evil and wrong in his efforts that I am sure the Trump perspective would have been misinterpreted, or even slandered. (This I am sure is why the article says that EPA management did not “respond to requests to comment on the article’s allegations.” The allegations were already set. Nothing anyone said from the administration would change those conclusions.)

Still, I am certain the author could have gotten opinions from some of the skeptical scientists whom the Trump administration has brought in to advise EPA. None however were interviewed.

What is most embarrassing about the article is its description of two of the main changes the Trump administration has imposed on EPA to widen and make more transparent the scientific work it does. First,

On 31 October [2017] — Halloween, no less — Pruitt dropped a bombshell on the scientific community in the United States. He announced that scientists with active EPA grants would be banned from serving on the agency’s main science advisory board (SAB) or on a separate committee focused on air regulations. Such committees provide peer review of the science underlying most EPA regulations; Pruitt’s decision prevents some of the nation’s top environmental scientists from taking part in that process.

Second,

On 24 April, Pruitt announced a proposal that would prevent the EPA from using any research in its regulatory decisions unless the underlying data and methods are publicly available. He did so in the name of transparency, but scientists and other experts immediately fought back.

According to the article, these actions are somehow “bombshells” that will “prevent the agency from developing meaningful health and environmental regulations.”

I say, hogwash. The first will prevent what had been a significant conflict of interest between those who decided who got government grants and those who got the money. Sometimes they were the same people!

The second decision, to require all data and methods to be publicly available, has always been considered good scientific practice. Only in recent years have scientists, working for the government on politically charged topics like climate, decided they could keep their data and methods secret, making it impossible to check their work. When in rare cases we have gotten a glimpse at that secret data and methods we have routinely found them to be corrupt or unreliable. Forcing transparency here can only be good, for good science.

That the author, writing for a science journal, doesn’t seem to understand this, speaks very badly for the science that is published in that journal.

The article’s worst aspect however is its unstated contempt for the voter. Trump, as well as Congress, were chosen by the American voters, under the rules set by the Constitution. By law, they are in charge, and the scientists and regulators must bow to them.

The article and the scientists who work at EPA however do not like this, and want to do whatever they can to stymie that vote. As noted in the article’s last paragraph, in describing one scientist’s reaction to the resignation last week of EPA head Scott Pruitt,

And after a few recent conversations with former staff members, Costa seems newly encouraged that they will keep the embers burning until the political winds shift again and sweep away Trump’s team. “In some senses, I think of it like the locusts,” he says. “They come, they wipe out the crops and then they leave.”

In other words, the electoral choice of half of the United States was like a wave of locusts that must be countered and canceled, at all costs.

You want more Trump? This is why you will get more Trump.

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4 comments

  • wodun

    It illustrates the existence of the Deep State, government workers entrenched in the bureaucracy that view themselves as entitled to the citizen’s money and above laws and ethical standards that apply to the citizens. There are so many “smart” people working as researches and yet they display a total lack of knowledge and comprehension about our system of governance among many other things.

  • Edward

    From the article’s opening line: “The day Donald Trump took office as US president, the mood was sombre at the main research campus of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Durham, North Carolina.

    They waited that long to get somber? Why didn’t they get somber the day the EPA made it’s first worst environmental disaster ever? First they dumped 3 million gallons of toxic sludge into Colorado’s Animas River on August 5, 2015, then two months later another spill near Crested Butte ( https://behindtheblack.com/behind-the-black/points-of-information/another-epa-wastewater-spill-in-colorado/ ).

    It isn’t as though they learned their lesson, either. They then went ahead and spilled even more!
    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-the-black/points-of-information/new-epa-toxic-spill-in-colorado/

    Thank God that somebody is finally stopping the Environmental Pollution Agency before they “protect” the environment again.

    To paraphrase the Jeff Tollefson article: They come, they wipe out the rivers and then they do it all over again. At this point, they may be more obsolete than helpful, now that they have polluted the western states. Tollefson failed to point out that the EPA itself is America’s biggest polluter.

    From the article: “’These are people who are dedicated to public service, and they feel like they are being treated as an enemy,‘

    No wonder. With “protection” like that, who needs polluters?

    From the article: “Scientists there say they and their work have been largely ignored by senior EPA leadership.

    With work like they have been doing, this should be a good thing.

    The EPA employees complained about changes, but clearly change was desperately needed. This may explain why fewer rivers have been polluted by them since Trump took office.

    If their science, methods, and data can be reviewed by the public, then maybe they will be forced to be less careless, do better and more realistic science, and do a better job at actual environmental protection. Maybe, once they start doing better science, their work will stop being ignored.

  • Phill O

    It is a long time since I read Nature due ti it’s bias. I know of publishers who omitted data and yet were able to publish in this magazine. No, it is not a journal!

  • Localfluff

    They could simply give up their grants and they are not necessarily disqualified from that science advisory board. problem solved!

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