RELEASE: Trump Interference in Climate and Energy Research Is ‘Assault on Democracy,’ Moniz Tells CAP Audience

Washington, D.C. – The Trump administration’s effort to obstruct climate and energy research at federal agencies is a “fundamental assault on democracy,” former U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz told an audience Thursday at the Center for American Progress.

While people can debate how to respond to climate change, “the things that should be completely noncontroversial are the underlying data as to what’s happening to the Earth’s system,” Moniz said. “It is completely illogical to not want to see those data continue, unless frankly you don’t have a pursuit for the truth.”

His comments came during a CAP event that featured remarks by Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and a panel discussion on the critical role federal research plays in monitoring and combating the effects of climate change.

Ahead of the event, CAP also released a new report that shows how the Trump administration has undercut scientists, halted important studies, removed references to climate change from public documents, and jeopardized basic federal research on climate and energy.

“Make no mistake, we are witnessing serious, concerted attacks on science and expertise within the federal government,” Tonko said. “Allowing science to be ignored and misused will significantly inhibit our ability to address urgent multigenerational or existential threats,” such as global warming, rising sea levels, and more severe weather.

“You cannot understand the environment without lots of excellent data,” said Deborah Lawrence, professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia. “The kinds of data I use now, I can’t gather in soil by myself.”

Even with funding levels approved by Congress this year, “we are not safe yet” in terms of either climate data or the broader scientific research, said Kei Koizumi, visiting scholar in science policy at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “We need to make sure that federal scientists can do their research without political interference.”

Joel Clement, a senior fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and former Interior Department official, said the government research is crucial in understanding how to protect people from the impact of climate change.

“We have villages in the Arctic that are on the brink of being washed away right now,” Clement said, noting that permafrost is “melting beneath their feet.”

Click here to see a video of the full event.

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For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at shananel@americanprogress.org or 202-478-6327.