February 10, 2017

Bill to protect government science backed by Udall, Heinrich

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall (l) and Martin Heinrich (r)

New Mexico U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced today they’ve joined 25 of their colleagues to cosponsor a bill that would allow government scientists to share information without political interference.

Both senators are Democrats, as are all the co-sponsors of the bill.

Passage of the Scientific Integrity Bill would ensure scientists can share information with Congress, the public and the press without suppression, said Udall.

The bill would also require federal agencies to develop scientific integrity policies, including whistleblower protections.

“Scientists and their research play a key role in public safety—from relaying information about the real and detrimental effects of climate change to the dangers of toxic chemicals in our household items—and the disturbing efforts by the Trump administration to silence the facts and prevent our federal agencies from communicating with the public must be stopped,” Udall said.

Heinrich added that “science should never be silenced.”

“In its first month, the Trump Administration has taken disturbing actions that send a chilling message to scientists working on applied energy research and climate science at New Mexico’s national laboratories and universities,” said Heinrich.

According to Heinrich, attempts to squash scientific endeavors due to ideological or political agendas will affect the nation’s ability to compete in the global economy.

“Our capacity to seize opportunities before us and deal with the many challenges that we face, rests heavily on our ability to make policy that is driven by facts, by data, and by science,” he said.

The Trump administration would not be the first to muzzle scientists. During the George W. Bush administration Vice President Richard Cheney and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove centralized White House control over agencies. Political appointees also rewrote scientific documents. And while one of President Obama’s first acts in office was directing agencies to draft scientific integrity policies to strengthen the credibility of government research, even that administration didn’t always champion federal employees working on natural resource issues.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida.