The Government Shutdown Hurts Public Health and the Environment. Do You Have a Story to Tell?

January 8, 2019 | 2:01 pm
Photo: Judy Gallagher/Flickr
Michael Halpern
Former Contributor

We’ve all heard tales of museum closings and deteriorating national parks. But the government shutdown causes far more damage to public health and the environment and the science that can improve our lives. This devastating aspect of the shutdown is getting much less attention than it deserves.  We need to elevate these stories, and we need help from those who work most closely with the federal government to do so.

What happens during a shutdown

USDA and other government offices provide critical technical services to farmers, businesses, and communities throughout the country, services that are disrupted during a government shutdown. We need your help to tell those stories.

The enforcement of environmental protections grinds to a halt. Chemical facilities are not inspected. Agricultural technical assistance projects are shut down. The protection of species stops. Research is disrupted, which can lead to gaps in data or entire lost field seasons (and huge wastes of taxpayer dollars).

There is also enormous capacity that goes into preparing for and recovering from a government shutdown, capacity that could be better used to deliver government services. All because of the president’s inability to govern and negligent obsession with building a useless border wall.

How you can help

We are looking for specifics that communicate the true cost of this (and every subsequent) shutdown. We’d like to know how your work has been disrupted, both during the shutdown and in preparation for it. Federal employees, contractors, and grant recipients—as well as users of government services—can reach out through our Science Protection Project. By going through that project, you can be as anonymous as you like.

You can also contact us directly using the methods described here, or share your thoughts in the comments section below. We are focused on how the shutdown compromises the mission of federal agencies such as EPA, NOAA, Interior, FWS, USDA, NASA, and more, and seek stories from employees, contractors, and agency grant-funded scientists.

Be as specific as you can. What projects are suffering? Where are they located? What are the lost benefits? What are the consequences for research and communities? And what impact do repeated shutdowns have on productivity and morale?

The UCS Science Protection Project exists to help government and government-funded scientists expose actions that compromise the ability of the government to use science to serve the public interest. You can reach out at any time to access these resources.

And to all of the federally-funded experts out there who are struggling because of the government shutdown, UCS thanks you for your public service and hopes you can hang in there until the situation is resolved.