May Theme: Environmental Law and Policy

If you follow the news a lot as some of the members of the CaSP communications committee, you would know that there is no shortage of controversy and news coming from the White House. A lot of news may not necessarily have a direct impact on science and science policy, but it is worth noting the significant developments that have come about under this administration. One example that you, as a reader of this blog and followers of our social media feeds, are now quite familiar with is with regards to forensic science. Another example is with regards to our environment.

The Environmental Protection Agency in recent months have made significant news. Though a lot headlines have surrounded the ethical issues and turnover in the agency, there have also been a number of rule changes that directly impact our environment. These include the recent announcement by the EPA to reduce car emission regulations, which has prompted a number of states to sue the EPA, as well as the most recent proposal entitled “Strengthening transparency in Regulatory Science,” which has been seen by members of the science community as a way for the EPA to limit science in decision making (see AAAS Article). These actions taken by this administration are a direct assault on our environment and more generally to our science community and thus, it is up to us advocate for the right action and to vote. As described by commentator Cokie Roberts in a recent NPR Segment, the EPA has encountered hostile agendas in the past and public pressure was the primary reason the agency survived.

Given the backdrop of the news coming from the EPA, our social media theme for the months of May and June will focus on environmental policy. Furthermore, CaSP will be hosting a lecture by Howard Learner, the President and Executive Director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, who will be talking on the topic of climate change in Wisconsin. This event will be held at 10:00 AM on May 21 in 2511 Microbial Sciences Building.

Also, for those of you joined the conversation about a sunscreen ban in Hawaii at our February Journal Club (or read our Journal Club Review from that month), there is an update. Recently, the Hawaii State Legislature overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 2571 (unanimous in the Senate, 47-4 in the House).The bill states the following:

It shall be unlawful to sell, offer for sale, or distribute for sale in the State any SPF sunscreen protection personal care product that contains oxybenzone or octinoxate, or both, without a medically-licensed prescription.

If signed by the Governor, the ban will go into effect on January 1, 2021 and would be the first time such a law has ever been enacted.