More than 40 Florida scientists have signed a letter calling on Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio to oppose President Donald Trump’s nominee to head up the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Last month Trump nominated an Oklahoma congressman, U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, to run NASA, marking the first time in history that any president picked a politician to run the scientific agency. Prior NASA administrators have almost all been scientists, engineers or former astronauts. The sole exception: James Webb, a former Treasury Department and State Department official who had served as vice president of the company that manufactured radar and navigation systems during World War II.
Both Nelson and Rubio have blasted Trump’s choice, but neither has said whether they will vote against Bridenstine.
In their letter, the scientists pointed out that Bridenstine has no formal science education. And while he serves on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, he has no experience running such a large agency and no experience with scientific research. A former Navy pilot, he once ran Tulsa’s Air and Space Museum.
They were also critical of his stance on climate change. Bridenstine has been openly skeptical of whether climate change exists and has questioned why the United States has to do anything to combat it. In one speech he even contended that global warming has stopped, that it’s natural and that extreme weather is declining. He also said President Obama had spent 30 times more federal money on climate change than on weather forecasting, a claim that Politifact rated as “false.”