Join
Search

Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey’s Legacy for Science and Democracy

On August 7, 2015, Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey passed away at the age of 101. Dr. Kelsey—a true hero of science and democracy—championed science-based policies that protected public health and safety throughout her life. Most famously, her actions preventing the FDA approval of thalidomide—a drug that causes birth defects—stopped what could have been a devastating tragedy for Americans. As my colleague Celia Wexler wrote, “The lesson of thalidomide is that regulations matter.” Read More

Bookmark and Share

“The Coke Side of Life”—More Sugar, Less Science

Almost 130 years ago, Coca-Cola first quenched Americans’ thirst and splashed its irresistible blend of sugar and, yes, cocaine, across our taste buds and brains. “Drink Coca-Cola and enjoy it” said the company’s first ad slogan.  Since then, addiction and advertising have gone hand in hand to convince us that Coke is, as a 1985 ad spun it, “America’s real choice.” Read More

Bookmark and Share

Remembering Jack Gibbons, Science Policy Titan

The first time I spoke with Jack Gibbons a decade ago, I’m afraid that I didn’t have enough of an appreciation of what he had accomplished. I was fairly new to the Union of Concerned Scientists and was told he might have some ideas for protecting government scientists from political interference in their work. Throughout the course of that first conversation, his advice was quite sound, but the history of the use of science in policy making that he gave me, combined with the long list of names he gave me whom I should contact, suggested that he would be a great person to have in our corner. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Communicating Science: Barriers Journalists Face at Government Agencies

Transparency invigorates a strong democracy. It inspires trust and spurs citizens to hold their leaders accountable. As citizens, we have the right to know about the scientific information shaping the policies that affect our health, our safety, and the environment, and our government has a responsibility to share this information openly. Read More

Bookmark and Share

A Double Homicide on the House Floor

I am used to the House of Representatives passing unwise bills that would make it difficult for agencies to use science to protect the environment and public health and safety. I understand that wealthy special interests are spending millions of dollars to advance their anti-regulatory agenda in Washington. But even I was shocked that a terrible legislative proposal could grow even worse. But that’s what happened in the House on July 28. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Ozone in Houston: Combatting Misinformation and Protecting Public Health

As I’ve been following, the Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of updating the national ambient air quality standard for ozone pollution. The standard is likely to be strengthened below the current standard of 75 ppb, due to the compelling scientific evidence linking ozone to adverse health impacts at this concentration. The EPA has proposed a standard between 65 and 70 ppb, narrowing the range advised by its independent science committee of 60-70 ppb, and the agency will issue a final rule by October. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Don’t Be Deceived by ALEC’s Special Interest Agenda

When the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) arrives in San Diego on July 22 for its annual meeting, the agenda will include efforts to undermine clean energy and climate policies that are widely supported by the people of California. Yet the public won’t know what is discussed at the meeting because the doors will be closed to most media, despite the presence of lawmakers from around the country. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Bad Policies Should Not Get a Free “Ride” on Spending Bills

I try hard not to be cynical about Congress. I believe that in the House and Senate, many men and women of good will and their staffs work hard to advance policies that they believe will benefit the people they represent. Our elected representatives may disagree about what the best solutions are. But they are motivated by the desire to do good, not ill.

That sentiment is being tested as the House and Senate vote on a series of spending bills to pay for government agencies and other expenses in the coming fiscal year. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Is Fracking Safe Now? What the EPA’s Fracking and Drinking Water Study Really Says

Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its long-awaited (and heavily scrutinized) report on drinking water impacts from hydraulic fracturing. The report has made headlines, but anyone following the science around fracking impacts shouldn’t be surprised by the results—that hydraulic fracturing has had adverse effects on drinking water sources in several cases, and that risk for future contamination of drinking water exists through several pathways.  Yet, yesterday’s headlines read very differently. Read More

Bookmark and Share

4 Ways “Fast Track” Is a Bad Deal for Science

Soon, members of the House of Representatives will cast a vote that could affect every American family for years to come. The vote is on Trade Promotion Authority, or fast-track, legislation that would give not only the current President but also a future president the power to negotiate complicated trade deals and then submit them to Congress for an up-or-down vote. The Senate approved fast-track in late May, after a spirited debate that raised many concerns about the wisdom of this approach. Read More

Bookmark and Share