President Donald Trump makes no secret of his disdain for scientific evidence that doesn’t align with his beliefs. During his presidency, he’s pushed for massive cuts in scientific funding, tried to stifle the solar power industry, banned the use of the phrase “evidence-based science,” and voraciously denied NASA’s conclusions regarding climate change.
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is so concerned, it’s taking an unprecedented step and fighting a president’s scientific agenda. The agency was established in 1969 at MIT with the purpose of advancing science and technology. The UCS calls Trump’s presidency a “war on science… giving undue influence on decision-making processes, creating a hostile environment for federal scientists, and reducing public access to scientific information.”
Trump’s attempts to stop scientific research are well documented:
The public animal welfare database is deleted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). A gag order is issued for employees of the USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) cancel their Climate and Health Summit. Trump removes ethics rules that banned lobbyists from serving in the administration. The two-for-one rule is established, which means no new health and safety regulations can be implemented unless two other regulations are dismantled.
Trump removes environmental regulations to protect waterways from coal mining waste. He signs a resolution undoing financial disclosure requirements for energy companies, and the EPA pulls staff from a major, annual Alaska environmental conference.
The Department of Energy (DOE) bans staff from using the phrases “climate change” and “Paris Agreement.” The Department of Health and Human Services discontinues all questions involving the LGBTQ community in two of its surveys. The EPA withdraws requests for oil and gas companies to report methane emissions. An executive order eliminates an agency-wide group that sets recommendations for minimizing the country’s carbon footprint and combating climate change.
The attorney general ends a Justice Department partnership with independent scientists to raise forensic science standards. Scientists across the country march to protest cuts in funding.
Trump proposes major budget cuts to the EPA, the National Institutes of Health, the CDC, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Departments of the Interior and Energy. Congress later refuses to implement them.
June 1, 2017
Trump announces the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. The agreement was negotiated by 196 nations, and requires each country to come up with its own plan to track and minimize global warming.
The administration cuts $200 million from teenage pregnancy prevention programs and research. U.S. scientists are restricted from participating at an international meeting on nuclear power. The White House delays plans to update nutritional labels with information about added sugars, and the Department of Interior (DOI) is ordered to stop using science-based decision-making to manage the country’s national parks.
By the end of the president’s first six months in office, information about renewable energy and climate change has been removed from the EPA, DOI, and DOE websites.
An executive order removes requirements for federal properties to withstand increased flooding. The NOAA’s advisory committee on climate change assessment is allowed to expire. Trump announces plans to downsize three national monuments regarded as scientifically significant.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife declines to designate 25 species as endangered, despite the agency’s own scientific findings in 2011. The administration announces its intent to kill the Clean Power Plan that would have limited carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
Trump announces steep tariffs on imported solar panels, then praises “beautiful, clean coal” in his State of the Union address. This same month, three quarters of the National Park System Advisory Board quits to protest the administration’s refusal to meet with the board, created in 1935.
Trump proposes wide-sweeping cuts to climate and clean-energy programs.
The White House again recommends massive cuts in scientific spending for the 2019 budget. Congress rejects the president’s pleas and not only refuses to pass his proposed cuts, but gives some agencies funding increases. The Federal Emergency Management Agency removes all mention of “climate change” from its natural disaster planning.
The EPA begins to roll back new car and truck emissions standards.
The Trump administration ends NASA’s Carbon Monitory System, a program intended to monitor global carbon emissions.
Officials propose key changes to the Endangered Species Act that was created in 1973. Specifically, it would remove a rule that forbids mention of the economic impact of putting a species on the endangered list.
The USC continues to monitor the Trump administration and what it means for the future of science and scientists. Right now, the agency says it is concentrating on the 2018 elections to make sure Congress is filled with representatives who support science.