Closing Environmental Research Office Will Jeopardize Americans’ Health, says Center for Inquiry

For Immediate Release: February 28, 2018
Contact: Jason Lemieux, Director of Government Affairs - (202) 733-5287

The Center for Inquiry today condemned the decision of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to close the National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) and reassign the Center’s responsibilities to an entity that performs unrelated administrative tasks. This anti-science decision will hold back research used to help address environmental health threats.

NCER is best known for funding research on the impact of chemicals upon children’s health. For example, research supported by an NCER grant resulted in the discovery of a relationship between child IQ deficiencies and prenatal exposure to flame retardant chemicals. Since 1988, NCER has distributed funds to Childhood Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers through its Science To Achieve Results (STAR) program. In a recent report, the National Academy of Sciences lauded the STAR program for its numerous successes, including “research …on environmental effects on children’s health and well-being.”

“We should be investing in environmental health research, not closing the offices that seek to understand these threats. NCER is responsible for landmark research on the risks to children’s health posed by chemicals in the environment. By closing this office, the EPA risks letting toxic chemical effects go undiscovered,” said Jason Lemieux, CFI’s Director of Government Affairs.

A spokesperson for the EPA claimed that the closure was meant to improve efficiency by consolidating several offices with unrelated functions, and that the programs currently overseen by NCER would continue. However, the White House’s proposed budgets for 2018 and 2019 cancelled funding for NCER’s major programs. Because Congress has not approved these proposals, CFI fears that NCER’s closure represents an attempt by the Trump administration to circumvent the will of Congress by eliminating environmental health research without public debate.

“This is just the latest expression of the clear pattern of hostility to science that we see from the Trump administration. We need scientific research to understand and address the challenges facing our nation in a changing world,” Lemieux said. “The EPA needs to use environmental science to protect Americans instead of enabling polluters.”

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at