It’s no secret that every Republican in Congress opposes any environmental protection based on their denial that climate change #Science is anything more than a scam perpetrated by China (Trump), liberal conspiracy “not settled in science” (Rick Perry), ignorant chemists “Carbon dioxide is not a harmful gas; it is a harmless gas .. there isn’t even one study which shows it is dangerous” (Michele Bachmann), and bad science “These global warming studies [are] a bunch of snake oil.”(Sarah Palin). Of course the same people who prefer a Biblical guide to science based evidence as a guide to policy use cell phones and advanced medicine but the harm they do isn't funny. Blocking #Government programs which are supported by scientific discoveries mean long-term damage to the environment and people's health as well as the U.S. leadership in science and technology.

Science’s outlook very poor indeed under Trump

Republicans and the President Elect alike have made no secret of their intention to overturn all President Obama's executive orders. Some will take time to change, but there is a little used law which they can use to make wholesale changes very quickly. While many people feel that science can’t be badly harmed by a single term with a science skeptic in The White House, the scary reality is that this is not a short term threat which will pass with a more enlightened administration. This is more like a Supreme Court appointment which effect changes that last decades because the expected reversal of many of President Obama’s executive orders on pollution control and other evidence-based policies based can be made permanent!

Science’s lasting peril from CRA's threat

President Obama signed about 200 executive orders and those, along with the 2-3,000 regulations established each year by Federal Agencies can not only be reversed in the short term but permanently blocked. Republicans using the little known Congressional Review Act can block agencies from later issuing regulations which are “substantially the same” as those it kills. In other words, applying the CRA to those regulations would allow Congress to not only reverse pro-environmental rules but also prevent them from being reestablished during a subsequent administration.

That’s right, not only can a Republican Congress and President reverse all science-based orders and rules, they can also make it illegal to reinstitute them at a later date. You can bet that the incoming administration knows all about the CRA because a top Trump advisor, Newt Gingrich, drafted the law.

According to the November 25 issue of Science (the Journal of the AAAS) some of the top priorities among those wishing to use the CRA to reverse and permanently block rules on school nutrition standards, fracking, Arctic drilling, overtime pay rules, and even regulations on e-cigarettes (last week one was spectacularly seen catching fire in a man's pocket at Grand Central Station - NYC).

The CRA has only been used once since it was adopted in 1996 but that's because of the threat of Presidential veto. With both Congress and The White House in anti-science agreement, we could see a wholesale banning of scientifically-based policy making and a return to rules set by arbitrary political considerations or, worse yet, religious beliefs.

With the U.S. perhaps permanently banned from many evidence-based policies the country could see a rapid and dangerous decline in scientific #Education and research with experts leaving the country, as happened when CERN captured the world’s top theoretical physicists and applied scientists because the U.S. stopped development of the Texas-based super collider. Given the religious right’s influence on the Republican Congress we should also expect to see a move away from contraceptive research and women’s health issues.

(NOTE: disclaimer, I am a long-time member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science - AAAS)