Trump Furthers War on Science With 'Illegal' Nomination of Climate Denier for Top USDA Scientist

As the administration continues to take a “wrecking ball” to science, President Donald Trump on Wednesday officially nominated climate change denier, conservative talk radio host, and former Trump campaign co-chair Sam Clovis to the top science job at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The expected nomination drew condemnation from advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), which reiterated its statement that Clovis serving as the USDA’s undersecretary for research, education, and economics is illegal.

That’s because the 2008 Farm Bill requires the president to nominate a person for that post “from among distinguished scientists with specialized training or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics.” And as ProPublica previously noted, Clovis can boast of no such credentials:

According to Ricardo Salvador, director of the food and environment Program at UCS, Clovis is “the wrong choice,” and his nomination “is another example of the Trump administration sidelining science and rejecting evidence-based decision-making, once again working against the interests of American farmers, rural communities, and consumers.”

“The USDA plays a vital role in keeping the nation’s food safe and its water clean; improving nutrition for all of our children; and giving farmers the tools they need to improve farm productivity and profitability and manage long-term challenges including climate variability, water availability, and soil health. These complex and urgent issues all demand science-based solutions and USDA leadership with deep appreciation and understanding of the scientific process. Sam Clovis simply doesn’t have the tools required for the job,” Salvador continued.

Friends of the Earth raised similar concerns about Clovis’s nomination and called it “a direct attack on science.”

“The critical challenges facing America’s farmers and our food system, including pollinator declines, deteriorating soil health, and a changing climate, make the USDA’s science mission more important than ever. The USDA cannot help farmers cope with the effects of climate change if the agency’s head of science doesn’t believe in it,” said Lisa Archer, the organization’s food and technology program director.

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