Federal Science Funding: A Call To Action

The United States House Science Subcommittee on Energy is responsible for EPA research and development programs. As many of you know, it appears that all EPA grants and contracts have been suspended (at least temporarily). This is a very scary development which tells me no federally funded science is safe. The chair of this committee is Randy Weber, who also happens to be my representative in the 14th district of Texas. I just got off the phone with his office. First, the staffer reiterated the commitment of Mr. Weber to basic science research (not sure why she needed to point this out). Then, she used a lot of words to basically say that states should be responsible for environmental regulation, not the federal government. I noted that my district has several of the largest oil refineries in the nation, and they have repeatedly and willingly polluted our water. In fact, my county has three Superfund sites. I noted that the Texas legislature has a long history of catering to the oil and gas industry, and I don’t trust the state to keep the environment in my county safe. She deflected this by saying that Mr. Weber works with the Texas state equivalent of the EPA known as TCEQ to make sure the oil and gas industry does not pollute our district. I don’t believe it.

Now to the really scary part. In a nutshell, all EPA grants and contracts, both future and present, will be subject to federal oversight before funds are distributed. In other words, government officials will be determining if your research is worthy of funding. Imagine the ramifications for people who study HIV/AIDS, drug abuse, and literally hundreds of other examples of research which may in some way be politicized. This is insanity. Fellow scientists, we have to do something. At the VERY least, call your representatives. This is literally an attack on science. However, I feel we need to do a lot more than just talking to a congressional staffer, and I welcome suggestions.

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