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The Rundown

The EPA Tried to ‘Delegitimize Science,’ so Scientists Sued the Government

You know things are getting weird when scientists decide to sue a major federal agency.
Photo by by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Since Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway coined the now-infamous phrase “alternative facts,” the term has since become a hallmark of the Trump administration’s antagonistic relationship with science-based policy. But the science around climate change is anything but fake, and a now a group of scientists is taking legal action against the EPA for failing to do its job

On January 23, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the nonpartisan nonprofit Protect Democracy filed a suit against the Environmental Protection Agency alleging that the agency violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act. According to a statement released on Protect Democracy’s website, the law states that advisory committees must be “fairly balanced and protected from inappropriate influence by the appointing authority.”


2017 was the costliest year in American history in regards to natural disasters, and it was also one of the hottest years on record. To avoid the absolute worst outcomes of climate change, scientists say global temperatures cannot increase more than 2 degrees Celsius, and yet temperatures have increased more than 1 degree Celsius since the 19th century.

In a press release, the EPA claimed that having scientists who receive federal funding on its advisory board could undermine their ability to be unbiased. However, critics say that the agency’s actions are an “attempt to delegitimize science” and unfairly penalizes academic and non-profit scientists who rely on grants from the government.

On their website, the Union of Concerned Scientists calls the directive “arbitrary” and “without any factual or legal grounding.” EPA opponents also argued that the lack of independent scientists on the advisory boards could open up positions for the fossil fuel industry, which poses a clear conflict of interest.

What you can do:

In 2017, the Trump administration made at least 23 major rollbacks to environmental protections and backed out of the Paris climate agreement— a pact made with literally every country on earth to lower emission rates in an effort to fight climate change.

If you’re committed to protecting the health of the planet then donate to the Union of Concerned Scientists in their fight against the EPA’s reductive directive and advocate for fact-based environmental policies.

And then some:

A big change can start small. Although the federal government seems blind to the importance of environmental protection policies, mayors are taking the lead on renewable energy policy at the local level.

The Sierra Club, an organization dedicated to environmental causes, is getting mayors to commit their towns to use 100 percent renewable energy for their Mayors for 100 campaign. If you believe in the environmental and economic benefits of renewable energy over dirty fossil fuels then tell your mayor that you’re Ready for 100.