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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Photo: Alastair Pike/AFP via Getty Images

The Interior Department rescinded a Trump-era policy that the Biden administration says "improperly restricted" the use of science and data, and ordered a review of its "scientific integrity policies," effective immediately, the acting Interior secretary announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: The action is part of an effort to ensure the Interior Department remains a "leader in scientific integrity." The American public's divided trust in science was deemed a foundational crisis that President Biden would need to address to tackle other challenges awaiting him on Day 1 of his presidency, including the pandemic and climate change.

Context: "Among other serious concerns," the late 2018 Interior order demanded that "every partner ... contractually agree to publish their data," hampering "the Department’s ability to enter into contracts for cutting-edge research, particularly when such research involved proprietary data."

What they're saying: "SO 3369 was issued without permitting the due consideration and review by the Department’s career officials or by the broader scientific community," Acting Secretary Scott de la Vega wrote.

  • He also noted that the "restrictive approach to data further precluded the Department from utilizing sensitive information (e.g., regarding sacred sites or rare and threatened species) to inform complex policy decisions."
  • "The waiver process remained undefined and left the Department’s scientific endeavors vulnerable to political influence," he wrote.

What's next: De la Vega's order requires science integrity officers across the department to share reports on the actions in which compliance with the Trump order “was determinative in the outcome or decision” in the next 90 days. 

Go deeper

White House nominates Rick Spinrad as NOAA leader

In this NOAA GOES-East satellite handout image, Hurricane Dorian, a Cat. 4 storm, moves slowly past Grand Bahama Island on September 2, 2019. (Photo by NOAA via Getty Images)

The White House on Thursday evening nominated Rick Spinrad, an oceanographer at Oregon State University, to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Why it matters: Filling the NOAA slot would complete the Biden administration's leadership on the climate and environment team. The agency, located within the Commerce Department, houses the National Weather Service and conducts much of the nation's climate science research.

3 hours ago - World

Israeli officials will object to restoration of Iran deal in D.C. visit

Photo: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed the delegation traveling to Washington, D.C. next week for strategic talks on Iran to stress their objection to a U.S. return to the 2015 nuclear deal and to refuse to discuss its contents, Israeli officials say.

Why it matters: That position is similar to the one Israel took in the year before the 2015 nuclear deal was announced, which led to a rift between the Israeli government and the Obama administration. History could now repeat itself.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases aren't budging — even after vaccinations doubled— Health care workers feel stress, burnout more than a year into the pandemic — Handful of "breakthrough" COVID cases occurred in nursing homes, CDC says.
  2. Vaccines: Johnson & Johnson's vaccine production problems look even bigger — All U.S. adults now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine.
  3. Political: Watchdog says agency infighting increased health and safety risks at start of pandemic.
  4. World: EU regulator: Benefits of J&J vaccine outweigh risk of rare blood clots.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

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