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Climate-Change Skeptic Nominated to USDA Science Post

USDA chief scientists traditionally have advanced degrees in science or medicine. (Kristin & Jordan Hayman/Flickr)
USDA chief scientists traditionally have advanced degrees in science or medicine. (Kristin & Jordan Hayman/Flickr)
July 21, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. – A leading scientific organization says President Donald Trump's nominee to be chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture is unqualified.

Sam Clovis is a conservative radio talk-show host and a former advisor to the Trump presidential campaign. He's also a vocal denier of climate change.

Karen Stillerman, a senior analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, calls the Clovis nomination "unacceptable and illegal."

"He just does not have the training that's required, either by law or just by common sense, for someone who is going to be overseeing science at a very large federal department that invests billions of dollars annually in research," she explains.

The White House says Clovis has an MBA and a Ph.D. in public administration, and he has worked at the USDA since Trump took office in January.

But Stillerman points out that the position he would hold - as undersecretary for research, education and economics - has been filled by people with advanced degrees in science.

"The important thing is that the person have some basic grounding in science and how the scientific process works, and how science can best be applied to public-policy decisions," she says.

The U.S. Code says appointees to the position should be "distinguished scientists with specialized training or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics."

The Union of Concerned Scientists has just released a report on the first six months of the Trump administration's record on science. Stillerman says the Clovis nomination isn't unique.

"There are dozens of instances in which the administration has shown disregard for the importance of people with qualifications in science to be making decisions that affect all Americans," she adds.

The nomination must be approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT