Government scientists blocked from the biggest meeting in their field

by Sarah Kaplan Dec 22 2017 read full Wash Post article here

NEW ORLEANS — Hundreds of U.S. Geological Survey scientists were missing from the biggest conference in their field this month.

Typically, some 450 researchers from the nation’s top natural resources and natural hazards agency attend the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, the largest gathering of Earth, space and climate scientists in the world.

But in the weeks before this year’s conference, the Interior Department — which oversees the USGS — issued a new cap on attendance: No more than 199 employees across the department could travel to the meeting, and expenditures could not exceed $399,000.

As a result, just 178 USGS researchers were present at the AGU conference in New Orleans last week — a 60 percent drop from last year. In addition, 30 abstracts for posters or oral presentations, which take weeks to prepare, were withdrawn by USGS scientists who were unable to attend….