Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Markowitz: Stepping Up For Science

Like most Americans, I take it for granted that I won’t be poisoned when I brush my teeth. When I walk the dog, I don’t worry about breathing polluted air. When I eat my lunch I feel confident that I’m not being poisoned by the packaging, or by pesticides on my apple. When I go to bed at night, I don’t worry about the next storm, like Irene, because I know our communities have the information they need to plan and respond effectively.

We take these protections for granted because over the years, the EPA and our State environmental and public health agencies have adopted policies and regulations based on science.

But as a former head of Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources, I know that we shouldn’t take them for granted - that without good science, we couldn’t protect Vermonters’ public health or our environment. And these days, the attacks on science – on provable facts - are alarming.

Even before the Trump administration, we saw a sharp decline in federal investment in scientific research. However, while Congress regularly discussed how to prioritize limited federal research funding, there was still general agreement that investing in science was important.

This has changed. Not only does the new administration question the legitimacy of science, but the proposed Trump budget targets science across all agencies, with a special focus on the EPA, including cuts to state services through regional laboratories.

These cuts will put our communities and our families at risk.

When we discovered the chemical PFOA in Bennington’s drinking water, EPA scientists helped us determine how it got there and what to do to keep the impacted families safe. When Lake Champlain suffered from toxic algae blooms, EPA science helped us develop a clean-up plan. When we redevelop blighted properties, EPA scientists and technical staff advise how to clean up the property so it can be safe to use.

Science is not a partisan issue – and facts can’t be ignored when we make public policy or issue regulatory decisions. But the facts don’t always speak for themselves.

I’ll admit it – I like the image of thousands of nerdy looking people in white lab coats filling the streets. But we can’t take support for science for granted – or leave it to the scientists alone, to stand up for science. Last week’s March for Science should be just the first step for all of us.

Deb Markowitz is the Director of Policy Outreach at UVM’s Gund Institute of Environment, and she formerly served as Vermont’s Secretary of State and as the Secretary of Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources.
Latest Stories