And then there was one—that is, there’s only one person left in the White House Office of Technology, down from a pre-election staff of 24. And this brain drain of scientific experts extends throughout the Trump administration because the president has neglected to fill key science posts or name top advisors on technology and science issues. The only related hire is Michael Krastios—a Silicon Valley investor with a degree in political science who now serves as deputy chief technology officer—but he’s not even invited to Trump’s daily briefings, which rarely include anyone with a scientific background. The president’s disregard for science comes at the same time conservatives, including a member of Trump’s own transition team, are calling for him to entirely shut down the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. During the Obama era, that scientific staff advised on key issues, such as the Ebola crisis, the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. According to a former senior advisor in that office, the vacant positions mean the Trump administration is “flying blind when it comes to science and tech issues.” The problems caused by these staffing vacancies are compounded by Trump’s proposal to slash key science budgets at federal agencies.
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ExplainerPuerto Rico, New York City, United States, ClevelandBrian Palmer
Let’s not forget what America looked like before we had the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Our rivers caught on fire, our air was full of smog, and it stank (literally).