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Gretchen Goldman

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About the author: Gretchen Goldman is a lead analyst in the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS. She holds a PhD and MS in environmental engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a BS in atmospheric science from Cornell University. Follow her on Twitter at @GretchenTG. See Gretchen's full bio.

Alabama Scientists Drive 900 Miles to Fill Information Gaps in West Virginia Water Crisis

In the early morning hours of January 16th, environmental engineering assistant professor Andrew Whelton and his research team left their University of South Alabama laboratory and drove 873 miles north. The team of researchers, including graduate students Matt Connell, Jeff Gill, Keven Kelly, and LaKia McMillan and environmental engineering professor Kevin White carried with them a van full of equipment to test drinking water for West Virginia residents affected by the January 9 chemical spill. Read More

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Is the Water Safe? The West Virginia Chemical Spill and the Importance of Scientists’ Speaking to the Media

When news broke last week that West Virginia’s Elk River had been contaminated with the coal-processing chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM), attention quickly turned to the scientists who could help the public understand what was at stake. With the spill just upstream of a treatment plant supplying water to 300,000 West Virginians, the questions were pressing: What was known about MCHM? Is my health and that of my family and pets at risk? Should I worry about the odor? These questions and many more arose from citizens, reporters, and decision makers. But as the event unfolded, we saw that scientists weren’t always given a chance to answer them. Read More

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Companies, Trade Groups, and Climate Change: Why We Need an SEC Rule on Corporate Political Disclosure

Today marks the 4th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. But the decision–which opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate political spending–isn’t just of interest to political and legal scholars. If you care about science-based policy, you also have a dog in this fight. Read More

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New UCS Report: Companies Can Anonymously Influence Climate Policy Through Their Business and Trade Associations

Today we release our new report, Tricks of the Trade: How Companies Influence Climate Policy Through Business and Trade Associations. In the report we found that many companies choose not to be transparent about their affiliations with trade and business associations, even when the information is publicly available. In addition, we found that when companies did choose to disclose their trade group board seats, many claimed to disagree with their associations’ positions on climate change, raising questions about who trade groups are actually representing on climate policy. Read More

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A Family History and a Nation’s Future Part 2: What 1896 Teaches Us About Democracy, Science, and Fair Elections

A few years ago, my grandmother gave me a gift. It was a hand-me-down, but a unique one. She gave me an original absentee ballot from the 1896 presidential election. I was excited not only that the 100-year-old document was still intact but also that it was from the 1896 election in particular—an important election in the history of our republic, but not just because of who won the presidency. Read More

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In Science and Democracy We Trust: A Family History and a Nation’s Future

Like many Americans, I spend the winter holidays with my family. I can trace my family history back many generations of Americans and this year I revisited some of that family history. Paging through scrapbooks with newspaper clippings and documents more than a hundred years old, I wondered what my ancestors might have hoped for when they came to this country. There is no doubt that what brought them here was the same as what brought so many others: The hope of a government of the people, by the people, for the people; and the hope of a place where innovation thrived and scientific progress was made. But how would our ancestors judge the government we have today? Read More

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How Disclosure Changed a Conversation on Fracking (And Why that Matters)

Last week, I moderated a session on fracking at the annual fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). The event went as we planned with seven speakers presenting their work on unconventional oil and gas development, but after the formal talks when we opened a panel discussion with questions from the audience, something unexpected happened. Read More

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A Celebration of Carl Sagan: The Man, the Legacy, and the Unanswered Question

Yesterday, I was fortunate to attend “A Celebration of Carl Sagan” at the Library of Congress. Hosted by Emmy award-winner and science-supporter Seth MacFarlane, the event welcomed The Seth MacFarlane Collection of Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive to the library and included 13 esteemed speakers all of whom had personal connections to the man being honored. Each speaker had different stories to tell, but many concluded their talk with the same unanswered question. Read More

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Colorado Towns Pass Fracking Moratoria, Bans Despite Big Spending by the Oil and Gas Industry

Does money in politics matter? Many (including UCS) would say yes. It can sway elections, influence what should be fact-based decision making, and determine who can run for office in the first place. But yesterday when it came to questions of whether or not three Colorado communities wanted to allow hydraulic fracturing within their borders, money did not win the day. Read More

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Clearing the Air on Fracking: Reflections from our Recent Webinar

When citizens have questions about hydraulic fracturing, where do they turn? In our recent webinar, Fracking: Advancing a Science-Informed Debate, myself and my colleague Andrew Rosenberg, the director of the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS, did our best to convey as much information as possible from our recent report, Toward an Evidence-based Fracking Debate. Read More

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