The Scientific Activist

One of the most significant anticipated results for many–particularly within the scientific community–of a Democratic victory on Election Day was going to be a new-found ability to hold in check the Bush Administration and its penchant for political interference in science. It appears that the Democrats are looking to make good on their promise, and to do so in an impressively proactive way, by making oversight of the Bush Administration a top priority for the incoming Congress. This oversight will include taking on political interference in science and environmental issues, as Roll Call (subscription required) reports today:

Incoming Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) already has said she will address the issue of climate change in the 110th Congress, and oversight hearings of the Bush administration’s policies will be a central aspect of that work…. [T]he committee is expected to take up a number of other environment issues, including the EPA’s toxics and pesticide testing rules, the Superfund program, Clean Air Act rules covering emissions from coal-fired power plants, wetlands and Clean Water Act regulatory development. The committee also will likely launch inquires into allegations by environmentalists and EPA whistle-blowers that the agency has been censoring scientists working in a number of areas that could harm the industries the agency regulates.

The EPA is a great place to start (particularly regarding coal emissions), but hopefully the Democrats plan to address Bush Administration interference in science in other areas, including recently-surfaced allegations regarding the Interior Department preventing the addition of new species to the Endangered Species List and the old-news-now-but-still-significant NASA censorship scandal back in February.