Tonko, Schatz Advance Bill to Safeguard Integrity of Federal Science
Washington, March 13, 2019
WASHINGTON – Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Scientific Integrity Act in the House and Senate today, legislation that would protect public scientific research and reports from the influence of political and special interests, a longstanding concern that has taken on newfound urgency under President Trump.
“Independent, rigorous scientific research is one of the most powerful tools we have for advancing the public interest and keeping the American people safe,” said Rep. Tonko. “President Trump’s multi-agency assault on environmental standards has hinged on efforts to distort, bury and even rewrite credible public scientific findings, including his absurd denial of the growing climate crisis and efforts to cover up evidence that the American people are being exposed to dangerous toxins. Protecting the integrity of that science is one of the most important ways we can hold this President and his administration accountable. Distorting or suppressing public science undermines our ability to protect the health and safety of the American people.”
“These are challenging and unprecedented times for science. And while it’s not the first time it has been under attack, this time feels worse. That’s why we need to answer the call of our times and stand up for science,” said Senator Schatz. “Our bill would protect government science from political interference. It would make data and findings off-limits for political appointees and managers, and make sure scientists follow careful processes for review.”
President Trump has built a track record of distorting or suppressing science. In its first two years, the Trump Administration has:
Dr. Andrew Rosenberg, Director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, expressed strong support for the measure, saying, "Our economy, our health and safety, and our environment all depend on independent federal scientific research and fully informed, science-based policies. The Scientific Integrity Act would protect scientists from political interference in their scientific work, and make sure that they can carry out their research and share it without fear of retaliation. Congress should pass the Scientific Integrity Act so that all presidential administrations can be held to that strong standard.”
The Scientific Integrity Act would help prevent undue influence over federal science by establishing uniform standards at U.S. agencies to adopt or strengthen existing scientific integrity policies. These policies exist to prevent public research and findings from being distorted or shelved for political reasons. More than 20 federal agencies have developed some form of scientific integrity policy to-date but standards remain inconsistent.
Congressman Paul D. Tonko serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment & Climate Change in the Energy & Commerce Committee. He also sits on the Committee on Science, Space & Technology and the Committee on Natural Resources in the House. This legislation is H.R. 1709 in the House of Representatives and is cosponsored there by Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy & Mineral Resources Chair Alan Lowenthal, a longtime supporter of the measure, as well as House Science Committee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson and Science Subcommittee on Research and Technology Chair Haley Stevens.
U.S. Senator Brian Schatz serves as Co-Chair of the Senate Climate Action Task Force and sits on the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Oceans, Fisheries, and Weather.
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