The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cancelled the speaking appearances of three scientists at an event launching the “State of the Narragansett Bay and Watershed” report in Providence, Rhode Island. The peer reviewed report summarizes work of more than 50 university, government, non-profit, and private sector scientists. It highlights the many successes resulting from sound, science-based policy and management of the bay.
Dr. Autumn Oczkowski, ecologist in the EPA Atlantic Ecology Division, was the planned keynote speaker and Dr. Rose Martin, postdoctoral fellow with EPA Atlantic Ecology Division, and Dr. Emily Shumchenia, an EPA consultant, were to serve on a panel entitled, “The Present and Future Biological Implications of Climate Change.” These scientists contributed to the report which also includes the effects of climate change on the bay.
AFS values scientific freedom and recognizes the importance of collaboration between scientists from all sectors to solve complex challenges facing aquatic systems worldwide. Scientific research and the communication of findings must be protected to ensure informed decisions are made in the public interest.
Drs. Oczkowski, Martin, and Shumchenia are all scheduled to present research at the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) 2017 Biennial Conference in early November in Providence. In response to the EPA’s action, Dr. Robert Twilley, CERF President commented, “The coastal scientific community has enjoyed a close working relationship with government scientists since its inception, and prides itself on celebrating and recognizing close collaboration among science, management, and policy specialists to solve pressing environmental problems, including adapting to the effects of a changing climate. The action by EPA to censor scientists sends a chilling message to science societies that our nation does not protect the freedom of information exchange vital for an informed public to solve real and important coastal issues.”
Read the statement issued by the Consortium of Aquatic Science Societies (CASS) condemning EPA’s actions here.