Trump’s New Science Adviser Arrived Just in Time for a Shutdown

NOAA is one of the science agencies that has been shuttered.

NOAA is one of the science agencies that has been shuttered. Mark Van Scyoc/Shutterstock.com

Science advocacy groups take turns imploring leaders to open agencies.

Kelvin Droegemeier, the Oklahoma meteorologist whom President Trump picked as White House science adviser, won last-minute Senate confirmation on Jan. 2, the final day of the 115th Congress.

Just in time to begin work in the midst of a partial government shutdown.

The appropriations lapse has not only idled or denied paychecks to employees at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation. Droegemeier’s own staff, according to the White House shutdown contingency plan, is down from 22 to six working employees.

Nonprofit science advocacy groups have mobilized members to implore the White House and congressional leaders, for the sake of time-sensitive scientific research, to negotiate an end to the stalemate that centers around Trump’s demand for a Southern border barrier.

At the closed National Science Foundation on Thursday, Director France Cordova sent an email to all employees saying, “As we conclude the fourth week of the longest funding lapse in history, I hope you are doing as well as the present circumstances allow. Your welfare and that of our agency are certainly on my mind these days.”

At the National Weather Service, “I’ve never seen morale as low as it is right now,” Dan Sobien, a 27-year veteran of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and president of the NWS employees organization, told Government Executive on Friday. True, the weather service is deemed “essential” for protection of life and property, so its core functions such as sending out forecasting alerts continue during the shutdown, he stressed.

Unlike the Transportation Security Administration, there are no employees calling in sick, he added, because, like air traffic controllers, weather forecasting “is a life-saving job, and no one is going to slow down their work if there’s a plane in the sky.”

But he said he does hear NWS colleagues “talking about sending out resumes. One tried to quit, but there was no one to process his papers,” Sobien added. “During these very trying times, we’re getting to the point  where the Weather Service risks losing some of its best people.”

The National Weather Service Employees Organization has joined other unions in a lawsuit alleging that the government is violating the law by requiring federal employees deemed “essential” to work without pay. “No one knows yet what the damages will be,” Sobien said.

Elsewhere in the furlough-hit NOAA, an employee in the fisheries section told Government Executive,“Most furloughed employees are frustrated.” Many of the permit applications from water vessel owners, some of them scientific in purpose, are not currently being processed, and it’s unclear even to staff which ones have gone through, he said. Similarly, legislation passed last year that promotes recreational fishing for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico is not being implemented, he said.

Out in the scientific community, the Federation of American Scientists on Wednesday sent a letter to President Trump and congressional leaders from both parties expressing “grave concerns over the negative impacts of the partial federal shutdown on our country’s research enterprise.”

It cited delays in “vehicle launches, monitoring of dangerous chemicals in the environment, inspection of food-processing facilities, control of invasive species” as well as pauses in potentially life-saving research into antibiotic resistance being done at the Agriculture Department’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research.

Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, told the PBS NewsHour on Jan. 9 that “thousands and thousands” of scientists are “running into delays, disruptions, [and] sometimes, ruination of their research projects.” He cited the example of a satellite science mission that has a certain launch window. “Suppose you're looking at insects, and you have to look during the week in the year when they mate,” he added. “You know, if the government is closed that week, and you can’t collect the data, that’s a problem.”

Also, the grant review and disbursement process at the NSF is stalled, Holt said.

The Union of Concerned Scientists on Jan. 8 put out an appeal to members and the public to send in detailed shutdown stories. “The enforcement of environmental protections grinds to a halt,” noted Michael Halpern, deputy director of the group’s Center for Science & Democracy. “Chemical facilities are not inspected. Agricultural technical assistance projects are shut down. The protection of species stops.”

In a blog post, Halpern added, “There is also enormous capacity that goes into preparing for and recovering from a government shutdown, capacity that could be better used to deliver government services. All because of the president’s inability to govern and negligent obsession with building a useless border wall.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.