By Cameron Gonzales
Last Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to slash at least one-third of all advisory committees. This policy might sound remote, but in reality, this decision will affect the lives of every citizen in the United States by leading to an uninformed policy regarding things like our food quality, the safety of products we purchase, and the amount of carcinogens (a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue) in our water.
So, what is an advisory committee, and why do they exist? Advisory committees are used by each and every federal regulatory agency (such as the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board and the Consumer Product Safety Commission) in order to inform the government about how to solve specific issues. The members of these committees are normally experts in their field, and they help the policy process to be done efficiently and effectively. These experts help solve issues like drug addiction, nuclear waste disposal, housing crisis, and water treatment. They make sure that the agency knows how to monitor the issues that their respective department faces, and how to begin to solve the issue. Their expertise makes sure that taxpayer money is going to programs that are well informed, saving money in the long run by dodging obstacles from the get-go.
The reasoning behind this executive order is the claim that these advisory committees waste taxpayer money. However, the reasoning ignores the much larger cost of an uninformed policy in regards to monetary costs and even human lives. As New Mexicans, we stand to lose from this policy. The government is planning on opening a massive temporary nuclear waste storage sight in New Mexico, just a few dozen miles outside of Carlsbad. Without experts guiding the government on how to store nuclear waste, New Mexicans may have to deal with the devastating consequences of a radioactive leak.
These advisory committees may seem distant, but they are closer to home than you may think. These experts assure that the government is creating effective policy and ensures that costs in the long run are far less than the costs in the short run, saving both lives and money. To even lose just a third of these experts will have a devastating impact on the lives of our citizens. Climate change research will be stalled, leading to more floods and lost land like in Arkansas and California, the push to eliminate the opiate crisis will be less informed and less effective, nuclear waste may be disposed in a way that is cost-effective instead of expertly informed which would, in turn, cost the lives of U.S. citizens.
The decisions of the federal government, even if not immediately felt, affect almost every aspect of our daily lives, and will either hurt or help our future. We should get behind informed policies, and always be skeptical of policies that are designed with the purpose of saving money in mind.