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Celia Wexler

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About the author: Celia Wexler is a senior Washington representative for the Scientific Integrity Initiative at UCS. A former award-winning journalist, Wexler is the author of Out of the News: Former Journalists Discuss a Profession in Crisis, published in 2012 by McFarland. At UCS, Wexler’s issue portfolio includes food and drug safety, protections for scientist whistleblowers, and government transparency and accountability. See Celia's full bio.

When the Government Shuts Down, So Does Federal Science

When you work in DC, the ongoing drama of the budget stalemate and government shutdown is a part of your daily life.  The metro is emptier, traffic is lighter, and all our wonderful museums and monuments are closed. Read More

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How to Improve the Chemical Safety Improvement Act

This year, after years of inaction, there is some hope that Congress may find a bipartisan solution to our chemical safety problem. As my two earlier posts have noted, our current law, the Toxic Substances Control Act, is virtually powerless to protect us from unsafe chemicals. In contrast, the European Union’s regulatory regimen, REACH, Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals, requires that chemicals produced in certain volumes (more than a ton annually) must provide safety data that demonstrates that they will not harm the public or the environment. The law, implemented in 2007, is being phased in over 11 years. Read More

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A Chemical Safety Law That Works for the People

Remember the precautionary principle?  It’s the approach that says that even when the science is uncertain about the harm a product or technology may cause, we should take steps to prevent the public and the environment from being exposed to that harm, until its safety can be demonstrated. It is the job of the business that wants to use or sell the product to prove that it is not harmful. Read More

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Our Chemical Safety Law Fails to Protect Us

It’s after Labor Day. You’re thinking about getting the kids back to school, resuming your doctoral studies, or just gearing up after vacation for a busy September. The last thing you want to think about is the soup of hazardous chemicals you’re exposed to every day. For more than 30 years, the Environmental Protection Agency has largely pursued the “ignorance is bliss” approach. That wasn’t the agency’s fault. It’s been rendered virtually impotent by TSCA. Not the opera, the Toxic Substances Control Act. Read More

Categories: Science and Democracy  

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When “Sound Science” Isn’t

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”George Orwell

When I cited that quotation while speaking to a group of students last year, many of them had a hard time grasping what I was getting at. So let me be clear. Orwell, in his classic dystopian novel, 1984, described what it was like to live under a government that believed it could change facts, and make citizens believe them. It could, for example, proclaim that two plus two equaled five, and that would become the new reality. Read More

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Transparency Advances at the Consumer Product Safety Commission

It is fitting that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has recently released solid, informative policies advising agency staff, including scientists, on the appropriate use of social media to both do the work of the agency and as citizens with their own opinions. Read More

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New Threats To Whistleblowers

Do you believe that an employee working at a Defense Department commissary holds a position “sensitive” to our national security? If you answered, “No,” think again. Recently a federal judge held that someone who works at a base commissary could get valuable information about troop movements by observing how many sunglasses were ordered. Really? I think a terrorist might be more likely to use Google Earth than rely on a report of sunglass supplies. Read More

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Don’t Be Fooled by the “Moderate” Tag: The Regulatory Accountability Act Threatens Federal Scientific Integrity

People of good will can disagree about the role of government in protecting the public from harm. Libertarians believe that less government is preferable, even when risks to public health and safety are substantial. Others, including many environmentalists, tend to see a much larger role for government in ensuring our access to clean air and water, and protection from toxic chemicals, tainted food, dangerous drugs and devices, and other harms. Read More

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We Don’t Have To Give Up Our Place To Special Interests: Democracy Gives Us Options

There is a practice in the Senate, primarily of corporate lobbyists, to hire low-income folks, usually minorities, to hold their place in line before Supreme Court or congressional hearings. There are firms that actually hire the standees, and contract with lobbying firms or corporations. Depending on the interest in the issue, standees can wait for hours before a hearing starts.  Last time I checked with one of them, a standee told me he earned $10 an hour. Read More

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The American Community Survey: It’s Common Sense!

UPDATE Tuesday March 19 (see below)

We at the Center for Science and Democracy believe that our democracy thrives when debate about public policy is driven by independent data. That makes our public discourse more rational, and more civil. When information guides our public policies they also are more likely to be effective and well-thought-out. Read More

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