The Washington war on science and the environment is getting totally insane

Inherit the wind
Screen capture Inherit the Wind: the battle between Darwin and God

The 1925 Scopes trial was seen as a trial of modern science, of God vs Darwin; it was dramatized with Gene Kelly, Donna Anderson*, Frederick March, Spencer Tracy, Dick York (later Bewitched) and Harry Morgan (later MASH). Who will star in the inevitable movie about the current war on science that is going on in Washington?

PoliticoPolitico/Screen capture

Who will play Energy Secretary Rick Perry, whose department just banned the use of the phrases "climate change," "emissions reduction" or "Paris Agreement" by The Office of International Climate and Clean Energy, because according to Politico, "senior officials told staff the words would cause a "visceral reaction" with Energy Secretary Rick Perry, his immediate staff, and the cadre of White House advisers at the top of the department." The Sierra Club complains:

“What exactly is this office supposed to call itself now? The international C****** office? Ignoring the climate crisis will not make it go away, will not create jobs in the booming clean energy economy, and will not make our country great."

house committeeThe Verge/Screen capture

Who will play Lamar Hunt, whose House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology brought in three climate deniers and Michael Mann, Mr. Hockey Stick, to speak about climate change? (Wallace Shawn should definitely play Michael Mann) According to The Verge,

...the committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) commented in his opening statement that “much of climate science today appears to be based more on exaggeration, personal agendas, and questionable predictions than on the scientific method.” He added, “Alarmist predictions amount to nothing more than wild guesses.”

In the New Republic they quote a congressman who did a play on the "you are a puppet, no you are a puppet" debate line by calling Michael Mann a denier.

At one point, a Republican on the committee even tried to pin the label of “climate denier” on Michael Mann, a world-renowned climate scientist the Democrats had called to defend mainstream science. Georgia Congressman Barry Loudermilk asked Mann if he though it was possible, even in the slightest, that humans are not the main driver of climate change. Mann said that based on the current data, it’s not possible. Loudermilk concluded: “We could say you’re a denier of natural change.”

The HIllThe HIll/Screen capture

The actor playing Lamar Hunt will be busy; he is at it again here. With the second best acronym after the Mar-a-Lago Act, the House voted to pass The Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act, or HONEST Act, which prohibits the EPA from using any scientific studies that are not publicly available. According to the Hill,

“This legislation ensures that sound science is the basis for EPA decisions and regulatory actions,” Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the Science Committee, said on the House floor Wednesday. “The days of ‘trust-me’ science are over. In our modern information age, federal regulations should be based only on data that is available for every American to see and that can be subjected to independent review,” he said. “That’s called the scientific method.”

This one isn't so straightforward, but according to E the Environmental Magazine, the implications are serious.

...environmentalists argue that EPA isn’t overly secretive with its data, insisting that the agency often doesn’t own the information it accesses in crafting regulations and therefore has no right to release it to the public. They worry that if the legislation makes it through the Senate, it would open up the door for industry lobbyists and EPA-hating politicians to delay or block the setting of policy based on credible, if unreleasable, research and data.

damsThe Pacific Standard/Screen capture

Jack Nicholson has to play a role in this remake of Chinatown, all about delivering water to the West and limiting studies and analysis of any dam project to one year. According to the Pacific Standard,

...many water scientists, river law experts, and regulators say House Resolution 1664, which is sponsored by California Republican Congressman Tom McClintock, presents an unrealistic timeframe given that any major modern dam proposal includes dozens of detailed scientific, engineering, and safety studies running to thousands of pages. Conservation advocates say the bill would undermine basic environmental laws requiring federal agencies to take a “hard look” at proposed projects on public land.

Scott PruittNew York Times/Screen capture

Scott Pruitt and Mike Pence will be easy to cast, there are so many white lantern-jawed action hero types in Hollywood. Pence is so wooden that he could be played by a mannequin to save some money in the budget. But as the New York Times notes, sound science provided by the Dow Chemical company beats sound science provided by his own EPA.

“We need to provide regulatory certainty to the thousands of American farms that rely on chlorpyrifos, while still protecting human health and the environment,” Mr. Pruitt said in his statement. “By reversing the previous administration’s steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision-making — rather than predetermined results.”

Really, the American political system used to be admired for the checks and balances that kept Washington from turning into Crazytown. Now it is just about big checks, but it will make a great movie some day.

*UPDATE

Donna AndersonIMDB/ Donna Anderson and Tony Perkins from On The Beach/via

A commenter notes "There's a woman in that picture. Did you simply not see her?" She's right, there is a woman in that picture, actor Donna Anderson. I didn't include her because unlike the men in the photo, she was not well known and did not have much of a career, best known for Inherit the Wind and her role with Tony Perkins in On The Beach.


But given how women have been written out of government and are not even in meetings like this one discussing maternity care, this was a particularly bad move, an egregious error and I sincerely apologize.

Tags: Washington DC

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