Science and Technology
August 7, 2014
Are environmental regulators hurting business?

Debates over climate change continue to dominate science-related policy circles. A key report by the Obama administration attributed extreme weather patterns to climate change and called for aggressive curbs on carbon dioxide emissions, but congressional conservatives said the report exaggerated potential problems and would spur new regulations that would harm the economy. Conservative critics also argue that the Environmental Protection Agency is not disclosing the full scientific basis of regulatory decisions, a claim the agency denies. Meanwhile, critics of government funding for social science research want to shift more grants to areas such as technology, engineering and mathematics that they argue would more directly spur economic growth. But others say social science research is crucial for understanding how to shape government policies on such issues as health care and national security. Separately, U.S. and Cuban scientists and policymakers are discussing a formal collaboration on marine science and conservation.

Emissions pour from the Morgantown Generating Station, a
            coal-fired power plant in Newburg, Md., on May 29, 2014. The Environmental Protection
            Agency has proposed rules targeting emissions from existing power plants, including
            goals for cutting energy-sector carbon emissions and pollutants, as well as requirements
            for states to create their own pollution-reduction plans. (Getty Images/Mark
            Wilson)   Emissions pour from the Morgantown Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant in Newburg, Md., on May 29, 2014. The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed rules targeting emissions from existing power plants, including goals for cutting energy-sector carbon emissions and pollutants, as well as requirements for states to create their own pollution-reduction plans. (Getty Images/Mark Wilson)

Disputes over climate change continued to dominate the science-policy arena over the past year, with the Obama administration calling for a sharp reduction in carbon emissions to fight global temperature increases and congressional conservatives resisting such proposals.

The administration in May released its Third National U.S. Climate Assessment, drawing attention to extreme-weather patterns such as hotter summers, wetter winters and increased occurrence of natural disasters such as flooding, which the report attributed to climate change. The assessment also projected significant temperature increases due to climate change over the next century, along with sea level rises, increased ocean acidity and destructive economic and ecological effects.1

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