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New CREW Report on Fracking Industry Contributions to Congressional Candidates

There’s nothing new about special interests using money to influence politicians. And it’s no secret that this spending has been on the rise across the board recently, notably following in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in 2010. Read More

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Through the Looking Glass: Climate Change Denial, Conflict of Interest and Connecting Science to Policy

The Boston Globe has an outstanding series of articles entitled “Broken City” and it is not hard to guess which city they are referring to.  Hint—not the one that boasts a World-Series-winning team. Read More

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Can Attacking Scientists Be a Political Liability?

Politicians attack scientists to score points with voters and their backers, whether it’s members of Congress attacking individual government grantees or belittling scientists whose research undermines their legislative priorities.  It got so bad that UCS put out a guide for scientists who find their work under an unusual amount of scrutiny (still a good idea to take a look before you’re in that situation).  But yesterday’s election in Virginia may showcase how these sorts of attacks can backfire, making a candidate look extreme and out of touch. Read More

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Convenient Science for Hire: the American Council on Science and Health Puts the Cart before the Horse

In business and politics, it is a good thing to have science on your side. Scientific study informs and enlightens our decision making on everything from food to energy to health. But what happens when the science is inconvenient to your business model? Read More

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Has the NFL Covered Up Concussion and Brain Injury Research? And What Should Parents Think?

On February 17, 2011, former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, one of my childhood heroes, shot himself in the chest. In a text message to family, he strongly implied that he committed suicide in this way in order to preserve his brain for research into the long-term effects of traumatic brain injury. 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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The House Science Committee and the EPA Fighting Over Data: Is That the Same as Secret Science?

Rep. Lamar Smith, Chairman of the House Science Committee seems to be implying that unless the raw data from two major studies are made available to him and his colleagues, that the science used by the EPA in crafting some air quality regulations is secret.  The Center for Science and Democracy at UCS was formed to advance the role of science and scientific evidence in public policy.  So should we be supporting Chairman Smith’s demand, which he has backed up by a subpoena? Read More

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EPA Inspector General Pushes Agency on Scientific Integrity

The EPA inspector general last week released the results of an investigation following up on the agency’s implementation of its scientific integrity policy (thanks to Michal Conger of the Washington Examiner for the heads up). But here’s an interesting question: is the inspector general’s attention misplaced? Read More

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EPA’s Remarkable New Air Pollution Monitors (I’m like a Kid in a Candy Store)

To a scientist, having new data to study is like a child having a new candy store to explore. With the EPA’s release of new air pollution rules, I’ve just learned of the Willy Wonka Factory of data in my field of study. The rules require new air quality monitors near major roadways in US cities. The new data will ultimately help us better protect from harmful air pollutants the millions of Americans who live, work, and play close to major roads.

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