Udall, Heinrich Introduce Bill to Protect Scientists from Political Interference
WASHINGTON D.C. — U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined 25 of their Senate colleagues in cosponsoring a bill that would protect government scientists and their capacity to share information with the public from political interference. The legislation comes in the wake of recent reports that President Trump’s transition team sought a list of all Department of Energy employees and national lab contractors who attended meetings on climate issues and Trump administration officials placed gag orders on employees at the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Scientists and their research play a key role in public safety — from relaying information about the real and detrimental effects of climate change to the dangers of toxic chemicals in our household items — and the disturbing efforts by the Trump administration to silence the facts and prevent our federal agencies from communicating with the public must be stopped,” Udall said. “I’m proud to sponsor the Scientific Integrity Act to protect the ability of scientists in our government agencies to convey the truth to the American people.”
“Science should never be silenced. In its first month, the Trump Administration has taken disturbing actions that send a chilling message to scientists working on applied energy research and climate science at New Mexico’s national laboratories and universities. Their critical research and development depends on their ability to openly share their work with their peers and the public," said Heinrich. "Attempts to squash scientific endeavors to advance purely ideological or political agendas will greatly damage our nation’s ability to develop new technologies and compete in the global economy. Our capacity to seize opportunities before us and deal with the many challenges that we face, rests heavily on our ability to make policy that is driven by facts, by data, and by science.”
To ensure that scientists are able to communicate their findings with the public, press and Congress, the Scientific Integrity Bill would reaffirm the principle of open communication of scientific reports and prevent their suppression. Additionally, the bill would require federal agencies to develop scientific integrity policies that include whistleblower protections and to make these policies available online, to the public and to all new hires.
Since November, more than 5,000 scientists, including many Nobel Prize winners, have signed an open letter urging President Trump and Congress to preserve scientific integrity.
Along with Udall and Heinrich, the legislation, introduced by U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), was cosponsored by Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).