Trump could spark era of clean science

The Oconee Enterprise, November 23, 2016:
Dr. David Lewis

While Presidents Clinton and Bush focused on invading Iraq, I watched firsthand as scientific integrity was systematically dismantled at EPA and the CDC. Documents on Clinton and Bush appointees, which surfaced in my legal cases, confirmed what a Clinton appointee to the White House relayed to me from his conversations with EPA Administrator Carol Browner. Plans to politicize EPA’s Office of Research & Development, and inundate the scientific literature with false data to support EPA policies, were carried out over Browner’s objections “at the highest levels” in the White House.

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In 1996, I published a commentary in Nature titled “EPA Science: Casualty of Election Politics,” quoting Speaker Newt Gingrich. He called for a new era of environmentalism that is scientifically sound, economically rational and politically popular. After reading my commentary, he said to me in his office: “You know you’re going to be fired for this don’t you?” His staff had suggested I not even mention his name if I wanted to keep my job at EPA.

EPA did fire me, but not before the House Science Committee held two hearings; and the Union of Concerned Scientists surveyed thousands of EPA scientists, confirming most had been asked to change their results to favor EPA’s policies. I called it institutional scientific misconduct, a term I introduced on a panel at Harvard University’s School of Government in 2011. Citing my book in his testimony to Congress, Marc Edwards at Virginia Tech blamed lead problems in Flint Michigan on institutional scientific misconduct at EPA and the CDC.

Thanks to previous White House administrations, scientific misconduct has become institutionalized within federal agencies. Even a NOAA scientist recently mentioned data fabrication to me involving climate change. “I see the data we gather in the Atlantic,” he said; “and I see what’s being sent to Washington.”

Last year, at a closed meeting of the Royal Society of London, I presented my vision for cleaning up government research on public health and the environment. President-Elect Donald Trump now has all three Branches of Government under his Party’s control, and a mandate from voters to clean up the corruption in Washington. With Newt Gingrich on his Transition Team helping to make the right appointments, Trump could restore public trust in government research on everything from climate change to vaccine safety.

To right the ship, he could create a new office within the White House to spark an era of clean science that is economically rational and politically popular. As I explained in London, for example, converting virtually all pollutants to inorganic nutrients, and excess CO2 to charcoal for amending soil, would benefit public health, the global economy and the environment far more, and at less expense, than continuing to have EPA and other government agencies regulate only an infinitesimal fraction of the innumerable pollutants the world generates.

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David Lewis, Ph.D.

Former U.S. EPA Research Microbiologist

David Lewis is an internationally recognized research microbiologist whose work on public health and environmental issues, as a senior-level Research Microbiologist in EPA’s Office of Research & Development and member of the Graduate Faculty of the University of Georgia, has been reported in numerous news articles and documentaries from TIME magazine and Reader’s Digest to National Geographic.

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