EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has ditched her science advisor, Glenn Paulson. The move came the day after she gave a major address at the National Academies of Science, telling the audience that “[t]he work we do together to preserve the integrity of our science is as critical as ever.” Dr. Paulson’s departure from this position is a loss for the agency, and the position should be filled quickly to ensure that progress on scientific integrity can continue. Read More
April 30th, 2014
January 24th, 2014
UPDATE: See responses below from CDC and EPA officials.
This morning, two dozen West Virginia scientists wrote to the CDC and EPA to urge the two agencies to give more freedom to their scientists to communicate with the press and public, especially during emergencies like the ongoing water contamination crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of West Virginians. Read More
Is the Water Safe? The West Virginia Chemical Spill and the Importance of Scientists’ Speaking to the Media
January 21st, 2014
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
May 15th, 2013
This week, the National Research Council is holding public comment meetings on increasing public access to federally funded research—both access to the data and publications. We encouraged the UCS Science Network to weigh in with their own ideas on how the government can increase public access to its science. After all, this is the science that we all pay for through our tax dollars. Read More
May 9th, 2013
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Tuesday aired a short talk from author and critic Margaret Atwood on two critical issues: the muzzling of Canadian government scientists and the importance of collecting adequate scientific information about threats to public health and safety. It is well worth four minutes of your day to listen in, and I’ve transcribed her remarks below. Read More
March 15th, 2013
UPDATE Monday March 18 3:00PM (see below):
Who ever said the federal government can’t work fast?
This morning, UCS released a report analyzing how federal government agencies and departments allow their scientists to communicate with the public. We found that while many agencies have better policies since 2008, there are still improvements to be made. Read More
March 14th, 2013
Social media can transform debates, inform discussions and, as we saw with the Arab spring, help spread democracy. And information and science have a key role to play in democracy (hence the new Center for Science and Democracy here at UCS). Scientists working for government agencies such as NASA, NOAA, the EPA, and the FDA have a lot to contribute to discussions about the science-based challenges we face. Unfortunately, agency policies combined with a culture of timidity are often constraining individual government scientists from jumping into social media. Read More
Can Journalists and Bloggers Report on Science when Access to Federal Scientists is Still a Challenge?
March 14th, 2013
You have likely heard that science journalism is in decline. No surprises there – one after another we have watched newspapers reduce the number of science beat reporters or announce the closing of their science desks altogether. We have also heard a great deal of debate over what the new on-line sources of information mean for how science is understood. Read More
July 6th, 2012
In keeping with its commitment to improving its scientific integrity standards, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has updated its public communication and media policy—for the first time in two decades (to put that in perspective, that’s before the vast majority of us used the Internet). The policy is a marked improvement from the agency’s previous policy and succeeds by clarifying the roles and responsibilities of Service employees and public affairs officials in the communication of scientific information. But despite these improvements, the agency is not out of the woods quite yet. Read More