2020: Our Year in Review

This year has been challenging and unusual. We’ve been through a hard-fought, tumultuous presidential election; a difficult yet critical national conversation about police brutality and systemic racism; and a pandemic that’s causing incalculable loss and affecting the ways we live and work.

COVID-19 underscores the role of science and scientists in protecting public health and how damaging it can be when science is politicized. This is a fundamental reason we at the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund do the work we do.

As 2020 comes to a close, we want to deeply thank everyone who supports our work. You enabled us to transform into a virtual organization so our small team could offer the same free legal services to the scientific community at a time when it was under attack like never before.

We want to share some of the accomplishments we’re most proud of from 2020:

We provided free legal services to 22 scientists to date. These cases ranged from responding to censorship, retaliation, or harassment to managing legal processes such as subpoenas and depositions.

We published 16 educational resources for scientists and the institutions they work for, which are available for free on our website. These include:

We held 14 events for scientists and students to help them understand their legal rights and how to use their voices as citizens. These include:

    • Workshops and talks at meetings held by the American Meteorological Society; the American Association of Geographers; the Ecological Society of America; the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and the American Geophysical Union.
    • Three webinars sponsored by scientific societies: two by the American Geophysical Union and one by the Geological Society of America.

We documented 60 new anti-science actions in the Silencing Science Tracker, a public database documenting government attacks on science that we maintain with Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.

We participated in the federal administrative rulemaking processes, filing comments in opposition to two proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules:

    • Together with the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, we opposed the EPA’s Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science Rule, which would dramatically restrict the agency’s ability to consider valid and relevant science. Read our comments.
    • We opposed an amendment to the National Environmental Policy Act, a fundamental national environmental protection statute. The proposed changes would limit agencies’ ability to review the environmental impact of government actions, including the consideration of appropriate science to understand those impacts. Read our comments.

Our work was mentioned in the media ten times, including twice in The New York Times.

We redesigned our website to create a more user-friendly experience and highlight our services.

After four years of devastating attacks on science, we’re eagerly anticipating a pro-science presidential administration. Despite this change, we have so much work ahead of us rebuilding scientific integrity in federal agencies and ensuring that scientists can share their research without fear of harassment or attacks.

You can help us protect the scientific endeavor in 2021 by making a year-end gift. An anonymous donor is matching all contributions made through December 31, up to $10,000, so your donation will go twice as far.

We wish everyone a joyful, safe, and healthy holiday season, and we look forward to accomplishing even more for the scientific endeavor in 2021.

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