Inside the GOP’s Latest Effort to Gut Science at the EPA

Inside the GOP’s Latest Effort to Gut Science at the EPA

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How many chemicals are in use today?

 

How many chemicals are in use today?

EPA struggles to keep its chemical inventory up to date
Desk with cans of paint remover, electronic cleaner, and degreasers.
Consumer products containing the 10 chemicals being evaluated by EPA for potential risks are easy to purchase, environmental advocates claim. Credit: Environmental Defense Fund

No one, not even the Environmental Protection Agency, knows how many chemicals are in use today. EPA has more than 85,000 chemicals listed on its inventory of substances that fall under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). But the agency is struggling to get a handle on which of those chemicals are in the marketplace today and how they are actually being used.

An abstract illustration of a filter dividing chemical that are "in use" and "not in use."
EPA must determine by June 19 which of its inventory of more than 85,000 chemicals are still in use today.Credit: Yang H. Ku/Shutterstock

Under revisions made to TSCA last year, EPA is required to designate each of the chemicals on its TSCA inventory as either in “active” or “inactive” use by June 19. EPA also faces a June 19 deadline under the updated law to finalize the scope of its risk evaluations for 10 high-priority chemicals that the agency selected for review late last year.

As EPA works to meet these deadlines and implement other provisions required under the amended TSCA, the agency is finding significant gaps in its knowledge about chemicals in the U.S. market.

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Cutting science funding means sacrificing the US’s future

 

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Former EPA scientists to Trump: ‘Evidence does not change when the administration changes’

Energy and Environment

The Trump administration’s proposal to cut the Environmental Protection Agency is looking dramatic indeed. The plans call for laying off thousands of staff, eliminating entire programs and making deep cuts to the agency’s research office, the Office of Research and Development (ORD), according to recent reporting by The Washington Post.

That’s not to say all of this will happen — or that any of it will. Congress makes the final decisions on funding the government. But it’s a stunning proposal to researchers familiar with the workings of the EPA.

“I think a deep cut would be devastating to the nation’s capacity to do environmental health and ecosystem research,” said Jonathan Samet, a former chair of the agency’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee who is now a professor of medicine at the University of Southern California.

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Banned chemicals persist in deep ocean

Banned chemicals persist in deep ocean

  • 13 February 2017
AmphipodImage copyrightDR ALAN JAMIESON, NEWCASTLE UNI
Image captionThe amphipods were retrieved from the Pacific’s Kermadec and Mariana trenches

Chemicals banned in the 1970s have been found in the deepest reaches of the Pacific Ocean, a new study shows.

Scientists were surprised by the relatively high concentrations of pollutants like PCBs and PBDEs in deep sea ecosystems.

Used widely during much of the 20th Century, these chemicals were later found to be toxic and to build up in the environment.

The results are published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

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GOP-backed measures seek to rein in science used at EPA

GOP-backed measures seek to rein in science used at EPA

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) CEO Rush Holt, a former Democratic congressman, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, before the House Science Committee. He rebuffed claims by Republican members that federal climate science had been falsified. (AP Photo/Michael Biesecker)

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) CEO Rush Holt, a former Democratic congressman, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, before the House Science Committee. He rebuffed claims by Republican members that federal climate science had been falsified. (AP Photo/Michael Biesecker)

Pondering new restrictions on how the Environmental Protection Agency can use scientific data, congressional Republicans are seeking advice from the chemical and fossil fuel industries.

House Science, Space and Technology committee chairman Lamar Smith this week accused the Obama administration of relying on faulty and falsified data to justify new regulations, such as limiting carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. The Texas Republican has been a frequent critic of climate science showing the world is warming and that man-made carbon emissions are to blame.

 

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Should Scientists Engage in Activism?

Should Scientists Engage in Activism?

Should Scientists Engage in Activism?
Hundreds of scientists rallied in support of science at the American Geophysical Union meeting on Dec. 13, 2016.

Credit: Tia Ghose/Live Science

This article was originally published at The Conversation. The publication contributed the article to Live Science’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Have you heard that scientists are planning a march on Washington? The move is not being billed as a protest, but rather as a “celebration of our passion for science and a call to support and safeguard the scientific community,” although it comes as a direct response to recent policy changes and statements by the Trump administration.

Not everyone thinks the nonprotest protest is a good thing. It’s “a terrible idea,” wrote Robert Young, a geologist at Western Carolina University, in The New York Times. The march, Young said, will just reinforce a belief among some conservatives that “scientists are an interest group,” and polarize the issue, making researchers’ jobs more difficult. Others find that argument less than convincing, pointing out that science and politics have always been intertwined.

 

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In Age of Trump, Scientists Show Signs of a Political Pulse

Michael Eisen in his lab at the University of California in Berkeley, Calif. Dr. Eisen registered the Twitter handle @SenatorPhD and declared his intention to run in the 2018 election for a seat in the United States Senate. CreditJason Henry for The New York Times

Michael Eisen, an evolutionary biologist, is among the elite of American scientists, with a tenured position at the University of California, Berkeley, and generous funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for his research on fruit flies.

But late last month, dismayed over the Trump administration’s apparent disdain for evidence on climate change and other issues, Dr. Eisen registered the Twitter handle @SenatorPhD and declared his intention to run in the 2018 election for a seat in the United States Senate from California. His campaign slogan: “Liberty, Equality, Reality.”

“I’m not sure I’m the best vehicle for this,” said Dr. Eisen, whose professional attire consists of shorts and T-shirts bearing mottos supporting open access to scientific literature, a cause he has championed. “But if we want to defend the role of science in policy making, scientists need to run for office.”

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Scientists plan to march on Washington — but where will it get them?

Scientists plan to march on Washington — but where will it get them?

A few months from now, thousands of scientists will leave their labs and take to the streets to rally on behalf of publicly funded, openly communicated, evidence-based research.

At least, that’s the vision of the organizers of the March for Science, which is slated to take place on April 22 — Earth Day.

Conceived in the wake of the successful Women’s March on Washington, and galvanized by recent news that President Trump’s administration was instructing government researchers not to communicate with the public, the plan includes a march in the District and dozens of satellite demonstrations. So far, marches are in the planning stages in more than 100 cities in at least 11 countries. Continue reading “Scientists plan to march on Washington — but where will it get them?”

When Denial Attacks: Ted Cruz vs. Reality

When Denial Attacks: Ted Cruz vs. Reality

Ted Cruz
Is it hot in there, or is it just the entire freaking planet?

Photo by Ted Cruz, from the video

It’s like GOP presidential hopeful and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz stepped right out of George Orwell’s 1984.

Phil PlaitPHIL PLAIT

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!

On Tuesday he was on a Senate subcommittee hearing about government regulation. Among the people giving testimony was the president of the Sierra Club, Aaron Mair. I’m a fan of the Sierra Club; my wife and I have donated to them many times over the years.

Toward the end of the hearing, Cruz started grilling Mair on one part of his testimony, where Mair said, “That people of color and low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by pollution, and climate disruption should not be up for debate any more so than the science behind climate change itself.”

That, of course, set Cruz off. In a typical denier fashion, he lights into Mair about this, starting off with this:

I’m curious: Is the Sierra Club, is this a frequent practice to declare areas of science not up for debate, not up for consideration of what the evidence and data show?

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