- President Biden is to sign an executive order on Wednesday promising to “restore scientific integrity” to government.
- It’s a thinly-veiled rebuke of Trump’s administration, which belittled the role of science in policymaking.
- Biden will also re-form a scientific-advisory council that Trump waited 33 months to put in place.
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President Joe Biden will sign an executive order on Wednesday promising “restore scientific integrity” to the US government’s workings, in an apparent rebuke to former President Donald Trump.
A White House briefing document about the order, which was shared with outlets including Insider, slammed “improper political interference in the scientific process,” in an implied criticism of Trump’s administration.
The wide-ranging executive order – the latest in a series of new orders signed by Biden – promised to increase the role that scientific advice will have over future policy. It also covers measures addressing climate change, environmental justice, and the economy.
According to the briefing document, the order will re-establish the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), a body of advisors that was first set up during President Barack Obama’s presidency.
Trump waited 33 months into his term to appoint his PCAST group, which was made mainly of business figures and only one of whom was an academic, according to Science Magazine.
Biden’s PCAST – whose members have not yet been named – primarily advises government on any policy affecting science, technology and innovation. But this advice could extend to a much broader slate of areas affecting the economy, workers’ rights, the environment, national security, and more, the announcement said.
Biden’s Wednesday executive order will also give the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy a broad mandate to review current scientific-integrity policies and ensure they are used across federal agencies, the briefing document said.
The Trump administration was regularly criticized for ignoring scientific advice in his policymaking, particularly in his COVID-19 pandemic response and environmental matters.
Infectious-disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci was sidelined in the Trump White House’s COVID-19 response, despite being part of the task force, with Trump preferring to listen to lockdown skeptic Dr. Scott Atlas, who is not an epidemiologist.
Trump’s presidency has been peppered with scientifically dubious claims. The former president had promised, without evidence, that the coronavirus would miraculously disappear, and rejected the reality of climate change by saying: “It’ll start getting cooler, you just watch.”
Aside from dragging his feet on fundamental government bodies such as PCAST, Trump’s disdain for science appeared to filter through much of his personal behavior.
At a Nevada rally on the election campaign trail in October, he mocked Biden for stating he would “listen to the scientists” on COVID-19.
In 2019, Trump also contradicted his own meteorological advisors by re-drawing the path of the oncoming Hurricane Dorian with a Sharpie.