It’s been less than a week since President Trump took office, yet his Administration’s actions already threaten to set back years of work to ensure safe, healthy products and communities. With so many threats, it’s hard to even know where to begin. But one fundamental threat – the new Administrations’ actions to shut down the flow of information to the American public — are particularly distressing.
If you’ve been following our work for any amount of time, you know that we are constantly touting transparency. Full ingredient disclosure. Transparency of chemical screening processes. Access to the health research data. Without transparency, we can’t ensure the systems companies use to determine product safety are adequate. The same goes for government. If we don’t know what the government is up to, we can’t be sure they are acting in our best interests.
This week, President Trump ordered several agencies to essentially go dark about what they are doing. In particular, Trump’s actions seem to focus on limiting the flow of scientific information. Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture reported that they were ordered to cease public communications, about research or other matters, and are not allowed to talk to reporters. And, according to an article in the Guardian, “The Trump administration is mandating that any studies or data from scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency undergo review by political appointees before they can be released to the public.”
With our tax dollars at work, we have a right to know what these agencies are working on. Their work should be publicly accessible and shared with the media. We should have assurance that the information is impartial, not the result of political partisanship.
These are not radical requests. Open government is the cornerstone of democracy. We the people deserve to know what’s happening and deserve to be heard. These actions undermine our ability to fully participate in our democracy.
We rely on science to help us understand what chemicals threaten our health and the health of our communities. Stand up for science and public information. Talk to your Congressional representatives today. (Not sure who they are? Check here: http://www.whoismyrepresentative.com/). The government needs to be accountable to the people.