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Among the most worrying aspects of the GOP’s new Senate majority is the elevation of climate change deniers to oversight of federal scientific agencies.

While Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) oversees the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) monitors the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) runs the committee which oversees NASA — and that’s bad news for the agency’s study of the planet.

On Monday, astronomer Phil Plait explained the danger facing NASA in Slate. Making a case for why NASA needs to study Earth as well as space, Plait pointed to Senator Cruz’s attempt at “refocusing” the agency.

Last week, the senator held a hearing regarding NASA’s funding, and called the agency’s administrator Charles Bolden as a witness. As Cruz urged him to redirect NASA’s core mission away from Earth and its environment, Bolden firmly replied, “We can’t go anywhere if the Kennedy Space Center goes underwater…”

Clearly, the agencies tasked with protecting our environment are now operating in a toxic atmosphere. The upside is that for Senator Cruz and the Republican majority to cut funding for NASA, they would have to get signed approval from the president, which would never happen. But with a Republican in the White House, the consequences for NASA, NOAA, and the EPA could be dire.

Photo: NASA HQ Photo via Flickr

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