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New White House panel aims to separate science, politics

WASHINGTON — Eager to turn the page on the Trump years, the Biden White House is launching an effort to unearth past problems with the politicization of science within government and tighten scientific integrity rules for the future. A new 46-person federal scientific integrity task force with members from more than two dozen government agencies will meet for the first time on Friday. Its mission is to look back through 2009 for areas where partisanship interfered with what were supposed to be decisions based on evidence and research and develop ways to keep politics out of government science in the future.

The effort was spurred by concerns that the Trump administration had politicized science in ways that put lives at risk, eroded public trust, and worsened climate change.

“We want people to be able to trust what the federal government is telling you, whether it’s a weather forecast or information about vaccine safety or whatever,” said Jane Lubchenco, the deputy director for climate and environment at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

People need to know “it’s not by fiat, somebody’s sort of knee-jerk opinion about something,” added Alondra Nelson, the science office’s deputy director for science and society. Nelson and Lubchenco spoke to The Associated Press ahead of a Monday announcement about the task force’s first meeting and part of its composition. It stems from a Jan. 27 presidential memo requiring “evidence-based policy-making.”

Scientists and others have accused the Trump administration of setting aside scientific evidence and injecting politics into issues including the coronavirus, climate change, and even whether Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama in 2019.

Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard University historian who has written about attacks on science in the book “Merchants of Doubt,” said the politicization of science undermines the nation’s ability to address serious problems that affect Americans’ health their well-being, and the economy.

“There’s little doubt that the American death toll from covid-19 was far higher than it needed to be and that the administration’s early unwillingness to take the issue seriously to listen to and act on the advice of experts and to communicate clearly contributed substantively to that death toll,” Oreskes said in an email.

Molly Aronson

Molly Aronson is a 26-year-old government politician who enjoys bowling, running and jigsaw puzzles. She is creative and exciting, but can also be very greedy and a bit greedy.She is an australian Christian who defines herself as straight. She has a post-graduate degree in philosophy, politics and economics. She is allergic to grasshoppers.

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