President Trump ordered federal agencies to cut the number of scientific advisory boards by a third—a dramatic blow to the committees that provide expertise on everything from the health impacts of pollution to the storage of nuclear waste. These panels cost little to sustain relative to the service they provide (most members are unpaid) and help shape significant policy outcomes by providing insight into the latest research. They’re also a necessary check against the bad policies that the Trump administration seems to love, like boosting fossil fuel development and defending toxic chemicals—no doubt the reason they’ve become a top target. Between 2016 and 2017 alone, the number of science advisory committees fell by 20 percent and their membership by another 14 percent, according to a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The administration has also stacked them with industry insiders, blocked participation of scientists who receive grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and attempted to drastically limit the science available when writing new laws. We sense a theme.
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