U.S. Agency Nominations and the State of Science


As some of the individuals nominated to lead the federal science agencies under President Trump start to be confirmed – with others likely to be confirmed in coming weeks, AGU stands ready to work with them and offer our expertise and the expertise of our members. That said, we acknowledge that some of the nominees have made statements in the past that have given us cause for concern (read our blog on The Bridge for more information)—especially those related to climate change.

AGU has and will continue to affirm that climate change is real, its impacts will be serious and detrimental, that humans are the dominant influence on this change over the past 50 years, and that action is urgently needed. If necessary, we will not hesitate to point out discrepancies between these officials’ statements or actions and what science tells us.

Here are the appointees and nominees for agencies important to Earth and space science that have been named so far:

  • Mick Mulvaney, confirmed as the Director of Office of Management and Budget
  • Scott Pruitt, confirmed as the EPA Administrator
  • Wilbur Ross, confirmed as the Secretary of Commerce (which leads NOAA)
  • Rick Perry, nominee for Secretary of Energy
  • Ryan Zinke, nominee for Secretary of the Interior

As you know, federal science agencies play a critical role in conducting robust scientific research, communicating science information to the public, and applying their findings to issues of societal importance to our nation and the world. We urge these nominees to uphold the highest standards of scientific integrity by encouraging government scientists to conduct world class research without regard to partisan agendas; communicate their findings openly to their colleagues and the lay public; and operate without undue constraints, including being able to attend scientific meetings and collaborate with other scientists.

We further urge these officials to wholeheartedly support strong investments in scientific research through robust funding, so that science can continue to play a vital role in informed decision-making for the sake of our national security, economy, and public health. AGU will stand up for both science funding and scientific integrity for all federal science – we hope they will take us up on our offer to provide scientific expertise and knowledge across all disciplines of Earth and space science.

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  1. Lynne Talley

    It has not taken long after these appointments for the administration to start proposing to dismantle NOAA (Commerce) observational and data systems that are essential for seasonal forecasting, coastal safety, hurricane/tsunami prediction, etc., hence not only climate prediction, based on the NOAA OAR and NCEI cuts announced this evening in the Washington Post (March 3). Widespread concerns about data curation are proving to have a real basis; meanwhile OAR provides core funding for most of the flagship global ocean observing systems. Comments from former NOAA administrators in the Washington Post article were right on target with respect to the various types of harm that these cuts will bring.

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