New DPCC Report Details The Trump Administration's Attacks On Science, Releases Unpublicized USDA Climate Research

In advance of UN Climate Action Summit, Senators Stabenow, Carper and Schatz urge the passage of the Scientific Integrity Act to protect public scientific research from unprecedented political attacks

September 19, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit,  U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tom Carper (D-DE) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) released a dpcc science report outlining the Trump Administration’s efforts to attack science and downplay climate research. 

The report documents dozens of instances of the Trump Administration’s attempts to discredit and influence public science with censorship, manipulation, and intimidation. It also releases a comprehensive list of all U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) climate research since January 2017, because the Administration has largely failed to publicize these important studies.

“It is inexcusable that the Trump Administration is jeopardizing our future by systematically attacking public science and undercutting climate research,” said Senator Stabenow. “It’s time for Leader McConnell to stand up for science and pass the Scientific Integrity Act.”

“Today’s report details the troubling extent to which this administration has gone – and will go – to suppress science and undermine the scientific findings of career staff across federal agencies,” said Senator Carper. “This dangerous, willful ignorance manifests itself in major regulatory decisions at this EPA, almost all of which to date has put the interests of polluters over public health. We should not be ‘blinded by science’ – we should be guided by it.” 

“Over the last few years, there has been a coordinated assault on science by this White House.  Every time the Trump Administration chooses to suppress or to manipulate government science as it relates climate change, they put the American people and the planet at risk,” said Senator Schatz. “Passing the Scientific Integrity Act is one of the many ways that we can answer the call of our times and stand up for science.” 

“The work I do as a research economist analyzes the impacts of climate change on U.S. agriculture,” said Dr. Andrew Crane-Droesch, a research economist at the USDA Economic Research Service. “The decision to relocate hundreds of employees like me has affected research on climate change and many other issues that affect farmers and the agricultural economy.”

The DPCC report finds that the Trump Administration has interfered with science across the federal government, including: 

  • Relocating Research Agencies: The USDA is relocating researchers from the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to Kansas City, causing a massive “brain drain” of experience and a disruption of critical research. 

  • Undermining Science Advisory Panels: The Government Accountability Office concluded the Environmental Protection Agency ignored agency rules in order to fill its science advisory panels with industry representatives.  These panels are typically made up of doctors, researchers, and other scientific experts and provide critical input for federal health and environmental protections.  
  • Censoring Climate Change: Officials removed references to climate change from numerous agency webpages, press materials, and proposed rulemakings, including details on how climate change impacts human health and welfare. 

  • Silencing Scientists: Administration officials have restricted federal scientists from speaking publicly about climate change by cancelling their plans to speak at conferences, instituting new media restrictions, and blocking testimony before Congress.  Several scientists have spoken out about the culture of oppression and political interference under the Trump Administration.

In the report, Senator Stabenow, Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released a comprehensive list of more than 1,400 climate change studies authored by USDA researchers during the Trump administration. The Department has largely failed to publicize this type of research. In at least one instance, the Administration actively minimized media coverage of a study on the impact of climate change on rice nutrients. The studies show climate change is affecting agricultural productivity, disrupting how food is grown, and increasing risks to rural communities:

  • Climate change is very likely to hurt domestic agricultural productivity, even accounting for future advances in technology (2017)
  • Science-based forest management can reduce the health impacts of smoke inhalation resulting from large-scale wildfires (2017)
  • Climate change may drive down yields of assorted crops in West Texas (2019) 
  • Strategies for dairy farmers to manage rising temperatures due to climate change, which are projected to affect milk production (2019)
  • Crop productivity predictions for soybeans, peanuts, and other commodities need to be updated in light of climate change (2018

In order to protect public science, the report urges the passage of the Scientific Integrity Act (S.775) to ensure public research remains free from political pressure. The Scientific Integrity Act would:

  • Formalize and reinforce policies that require federal agencies that conduct or fund scientific research to maintain clear scientific integrity principles 
  • Affirm that science dictates policy, and that scientific research should be free from the pressure of politics, ideology, or financial influence; and

  • Hold public scientists to high standards and guarantee their rights and protections under the law.