Donald Trump Just Found Another Infuriating Way to Undermine Science

He signed an executive order directing agencies to eliminate a third of expert advisory panels.

Evan Vucci/AP

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

He has done it again. President Donald Trump just found a new way to undermine science—and benefit industry—from the federal level.  On Friday evening, when it was unlikely to receive much coverage, the president issued an executive order directing federal agencies to “evaluate the need” for and severely limit the number of expert panels that advise them. 

According to the executive order, Trump wants agencies to gut at least one-third of their advisory committees within a few months:

Each agency shall, by September 30, 2019, terminate at least one-third of its current committees established under section 9(a)(2) of FACA, including committees for which the:

(i)    stated objectives of the committee have been accomplished;

(ii)   subject matter or work of the committee has become obsolete;

(iii)  primary functions have been assumed by another entity; or

(iv)   agency determines that the cost of operation is excessive in relation to the benefits to the Federal Government.

Agencies have turned to experts for guidance on “everything from air and water pollution to drug safety and foodborne illnesses,” according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. There are about 1,000 advisory committees governmentwide, according to the U.S. General Services Administration.

The Environmental Protection Agency will be further crippled by the executive order. An EPA spokesperson told The Hill that the agency will “will review its [Federal Advisory Committee Act] obligations in line with the President’s executive order.” Similarly, a spokesperson from the Interior Department, which has more than 100 federal advisory committees, told the publication that it “looks forward to another opportunity to review” their committees, in order to “improve the utility of these advisory committees.”

This move culminates a concerted effort by the Trump administration to remove science from the government that began almost immediately after he was sworn in. “For the past two years they have been shrinking and restricting the role of federal science advisory committees,” Gretchen Goldman, the research director with the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS, said in a statement. “Now they’re removing the possibility of even making decisions based on robust science advice. It’s no longer death by a thousand cuts. It’s taking a knife to the jugular.”

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate