EARTHblog » Aaron Mintzes
December 7, 2012
Politicians decide policy; scientists help inform policy decisions by explaining the world we live in. So, it’s disappointing to hear politicians accuse scientists of playing politics. The most recent example of this involves a letter a number of senior GOP House members sent to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The letter openly questions the scientific objectivity of a little known agency within HHS called the (I’m not making this up) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
December 5, 2012
Amid much discord in the United States Congress related to all matters fiscal, occasionally there emerge rare moments of cooperation. The Department of Defense (DOD) budget requires reauthorization during the lame duck session providing an opportunity for the Senate to attach policy proposals that would not likely pass were they stand alone pieces of legislation. On the one hand, the Pentagon seems like an awkward place to advance social or environmental policy. But, because its budget is so large, some policy ideas get their first trial at DOD. The United States Senate unanimously passed a number of amendments to the DOD reauthorization bill related to critical minerals and public lands. Among them was a proposal by Senators Kyl, Risch, and Heller that urges the President to coordinate opportunities within a number of agencies to develop a sustainable supply of critical minerals. Helping ensure this supply is an amendment by Senators Casey and Begich that encourages DOD to recycle the rare earth elements found in the Department’s fluorescent light bulbs. Along the same lines, a number of Senators offered additional amendments concerning various forms of alternative and renewable energies the military should exploit.