Charise Johnson

Researcher, Center for Science & Democracy

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Charise Johnson is a research analyst in the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. She works primarily in partnership with justice-based groups, providing analysis that connects data-driven research with public health and community impacts. See Charise's full bio.

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Photo: NCinDC/CC BY-ND 2.0 (Flickr)

DOI’s New Policy Restricts Science Under the Guise of Transparency

Last week, Interior Department Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt issued an order, “Promoting Open Science”, purportedly to increase transparency and public accessibility of the research used by the Department to make science-based decisions. This seems dubious coming from a person who spent much of his career lobbying for the oil and gas industry and who at his confirmation hearing professed, “Here’s the reality: We’re going to look at the science whatever it is, but … policy decisions are made — this president ran and he won on a particular perspective.” The order, effective immediately, is not unlike the EPA’s “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” proposed rule, in that it restricts the use of science in important decisions that affects the public and our environment. Read more >

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The endangered black-footed ferret. Photo: USFWS Mountain-prairie

Proposed Changes to the Endangered Species Act Threaten Wildlife

The Trump Administration is threatening species, land conservation, and human health and wellbeing by rolling back our health, safety, and environmental protections. This time the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) are attempting to undercut the scientific basis of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by proposing changes that will make it less effective, even increasing the chances that species will go extinct. Read more >

Photo: USFWS Mountain-Praire
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Photo: LadyDragonflyCC/Flickr

The EPA’s Proposed Chemical Disaster Rule is a Disaster in the Making

UCS released a white paper today – The Impact of Chemical Facilities on Environmental Justice Communities: Review of Selected Communities Affected by Chemical Facility Incidents – that addresses the EPA’s proposed rule to reverse improvements to the Risk Management Program (RMP), a regulatory mechanism intended to ensure the safety and security of over 12,000 facilities that use or store hazardous chemicals nationwide, as made under the Obama administration and finalized in January 2017. Specifically, it highlights the potential health impacts of past catastrophic incidents at chemical facilities on nearby communities. Read more >

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The endangered margay. Photo: Proyecto Asis/Flickr

The Endangered Species Act is Itself Endangered

In the last two weeks, both the Senate and House have introduced bills proposing damaging amendments to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the leading piece of science-based legislation used to protect and recover biodiversity in the United States. Notably, Senator John Barrasso, chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) and long-time critic of the Act, released a discussion draft of the bill he’s been working on entitled, “the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2018.” The changes to the Act would introduce more routes for political interference under the guise of increased transparency, while relegating science to an afterthought instead of the basis upon which Endangered Species Act decisions are made. An EPW hearing is scheduled for tomorrow morning, where representatives from Wyoming, Colorado, and Virginia will testify before the committee on the proposed changes to the Act.

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Photo: Proyecto Asis
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The endangered marbled murrelet.

Keep Your Paws Off: Three Ways Congress is Preying on Endangered Species Protections

It seems there is a doggedly persistent contingent of lawmakers in Congress whose life goals include defunding, weakening, ignoring, and overhauling endangered species protections. Their tactics are varied: sidelining science in favor of industry interests, attaching harmful riders to “must-pass” spending bills, and introducing legislation whose insidious intentions are masked by semantics. Here is a quick rundown of current endangered species attacks. Read more >

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