COMMONWEALTH Forum: The Politics of Science or the Science of Politics


  • John Arway



The challenges of including factual information in public policy and political discussions are many. The difficulties of including scientific facts in these debates can often be frustrating for scientists, politicians and policymakers alike. At times it seems that discussions involve different languages or dialects such that it becomes a challenge to even understand one another’s position. Oftentimes difference of opinion leads to laws and regulations that are tilted to the left or the right. The collaborative balancing to insure public and natural resource interests are protected ends up being accomplished through extensive litigation in the courts. In this article, the author discusses the history of environmental balancing during the past three decades from the perspective of a field biologist who has used the strength of our policies, laws and regulations to fight for the protection of our Commonwealth’s aquatic resources. For the past 7 years, the author has taken over the reins of “the most powerful environmental agency in Pennsylvania” and charted a course using science to properly represent natural resource interests in public policy and political deliberations.