Biden Administration Analyzes Political Influence in Policy Making, Works to Restore Trust in Climate Science

Biden Administration Works to Restore Trust in Climate Science

CNN obtained a report from the Biden Administration's Scientific Integrity Task Force analyzing political influence on science-based policymaking. The report found that politics rarely influence the sciences in federal policy making, but when they do, the public loses massive amounts of trust in the federal government.

According to the report:

Although violations of scientific integrity are small in number compared to the magnitude of the Federal Government's scientific enterprise, they can have an outsized, detrimental impact on decision-making and public trust in science. As illustrated by high-profile cases, political intrusion into the conduct, management, communication, and use (or misuse) of science has a severe impact on public trust in Federal science.

Why This Matters

Public mistrust in both the government and science as a whole has massive impacts on climate policy. The Trump Administration was particularly brazen in undermining science, particularly climatology. Trump removed the pages on climate change on the EPA website, and infamously drew on a projection map for Hurricane Dorian with a Sharpie.

Dr. Jane Lubchenco, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy's Scientific Integrity Task Force's Deputy Director for Climate and Environment, told CNN:

It's the first comprehensive assessment that we've had across the entire federal government of what needs to be done to ensure scientific integrity in our government. We’ve seen that when we don't have good policies in place, and when they aren't enforced, that bad information can get out, and that undermines public trust in government.

Restoring Public Trust In Science

This task force was a part of Biden's executive memorandum his first year in office to center scientific policymaking.

The report recommended that agencies should enforce scientific integrity policies to correct the scientific record and hold those that break them accountable. The task force also suggests that agencies should nominate a senior official to deal with issues of scientific integrity. The report notes that violations of scientific integrity policies by high-level officials are particularly hard to address.

Dr. Alondra Nelson, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Deputy Director for Science and Society, told CNN:

I hope that the American public will be encouraged -- certainly by the process -- but by this report that is thoughtful and is comprehensive and is only just the beginning of what is a deeply committed effort to ensure that lapses that have occurred in the past won't happen again.