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Scientific Advice for the New EPA Carbon Emissions Standards: Let’s Clear the Air

This month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published proposed new standards limiting Greenhouse Gas Emissions from new electricity generating power plants using coal or natural gas. Allegations of secrecy and political interference in science began to surface even before the proposal was released. So do these allegations have any merit? Read More

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Dear Senate: Ease Travel Restrictions on Government Scientists

Most scientists who work for the government love doing so. They develop connections with others who share their dedication to public service, and see the immediate impact of their work reflected in real-world policies that protect public health and safety or the environment. But sometimes, politics gets in the way of their full participation in the scientific enterprise, wasting taxpayer dollars invested in the researchers themselves and jeopardizing the ability of the government to attract top scientific talent. Read More

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Finding Glimmers of Hope on Capitol Hill

The holidays are always a good time to take stock of the year, and to be grateful for the good things that happened. Although the media has labeled this the “do nothing” Congress, the news wasn’t all bad. 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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Don’t Mix Politics and Public Protections: Delays Harm Us All

For years, UCS has been making the case that science should inform the work of federal agencies, and that agency policies and rules should not be subject to political and corporate interference. When President George W. Bush was in office, the extent of that interference was quite blatant. John Graham, then head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), an obscure but powerful office within the Office of Management and Budget, did all he could to displace science and permit corporate pressure on the rulemaking process. Read More

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Lumps of Coal in the House-Passed Farm Bill

There’s an old and well honored legislative strategy of tucking otherwise unacceptable and noxious proposals into must-pass bills. The hope is that House and Senate members, seeking compromise on a final piece of legislation, may be so relieved to get a deal on the big-ticket items that some of the smaller bits can get through, too. Read More

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Nelson Mandela and the Politics of Science

Today, we celebrate the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela. It is worth reflecting on his ability to transcend politics when speaking about contentious scientific issues. Nowhere was this more apparent than the difficult politics surrounding HIV/AIDS at the turn of the millennium. Read More

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The Heartland Institute Hijacks American Meteorological Society’s Name, and AMS Fights Back

The Heartland Institute—you know, the friendly folks behind the ads comparing climate scientists to the Unabomber—is at it again. In an email sent Thanksgiving week, the organization attempted to use the good name of the American Meteorological Society to misrepresent the views of society members regarding global warming science. It’s the latest in a series of attempts by groups such as Heartland to hide behind the names of legitimate scientific organizations to influence public understanding of climate science. Read More

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Francesca Grifo Leaves UCS to Oversee Scientific Integrity at EPA

UCS’s Francesca Grifo, who has advocated for strong scientific integrity standards within government since 2005, started today as the EPA’s scientific integrity officer. She is charged with implementing the EPA’s scientific integrity policy. It’s a big win for the agency, and will hopefully spark a renewed commitment to scientific integrity within the federal government. Read More

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Coal Mining and Public Health: How the Coal Industry, Lawyers, and Doctors Have Betrayed Miners and Their Families

Recent news reports about coal mining have pulled me back to thinking about workers—having spent the bulk of my pre-UCS career in occupational health (teaching in medical schools and working for our country’s workplace health and safety research agency, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health/NIOSH). With the critical focus on climate change and the need to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases and other dangerous pollutants from coal-burning power plants, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the health impacts coal has on the brave souls who mine it and on their families who share in their suffering. Read More

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