January 20, 2009 / 6:43 PM / in 9 years

SNAP ANALYSIS-Obama pledges return to science, energy policy

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON, Jan 20 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama pledged a return to science in his inaugural address on Tuesday, promising a rational approach to transform health care and action toward an alternative energy policy.

Making a clear break with his predecessor George W. Bush, Obama repeated campaign promises to "restore science to its rightful place".

* The Bush administration was criticized for packing scientific advisory panels with industry representatives and ideologues and Obama’s promise suggests a return to a policy of seeking knowledgeable, non-partisan advisers.

* Bush’s anti-abortion policy had a wide influence, from AIDS programs overseas to breast cancer research at the National Cancer Institute. Obama is expected to reverse a Health and Human Services Department regulation aimed at protecting health care and other workers who invoke their consciences in refusing care such as contraceptive services.

* Obama is also widely expected to quickly reverse Bush’s executive order that has had the effect of limiting embryonic stem cell research. Former Surgeon-General Dr. Richard Carmona complained he was muzzled in attempts to speak out on stem cell science and other issues.

* Obama also pledged to "wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost". In his campaign Obama pledged to spend billions to promote and facilitate electronic prescribing and record-keeping.

* Obama suggested funding for alternative energy. "We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories," he said.

* The Bush administration was slow to accept that human activities had affected global warming. Former Environmental Protection Agency head Christine Todd Whitman has complained the White House interfered with her agency’s work. (Writing by Maggie Fox; Editing by David Storey)

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