Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wouldn't It Be Nice To Have A President Who Believed In Science?

From today's EEI newsletter:

Scientists Report Instances of Political Interference

More than half of the 1,586 EPA scientists who responded to a questionnaire from the Union of Concerned Scientists reported witnessing political interference in scientific decisions over the past five years, the Washington Post reported today. Francesca Grifo, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists' scientific integrity program, said: "Things are not as they should be at the EPA. Scientific findings are being suppressed and distorted; 889 scientists personally experienced at least one type of political interference. ... Scientists are being pressured by outside interests."

More than 100 respondents said the Office of Management and Budget was the source of the interference, with hundreds of others blaming industry groups and other agencies, the Post reported. Wrote the Los Angeles Times: "Such allegations are not new: During much of the Bush administration, there have been reports of the White House watering down documents on climate change, industry language inserted into EPA power-plant regulations and scientific advisory panels' conclusions about toxic chemicals going unheeded."

J. William Hirzy, an EPA senior scientist and union official, said scientists also saw political interference during the Clinton administration but "what we're seeing now is ... the favoring of energy interests, coal-fired power plants. That's something different in this administration." Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has sent a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson advising him to prepare to face questioning about the survey findings at a hearing next month. Waxman wrote: "These survey results suggest a pattern of ignoring and manipulating science in EPA's decision making."

As far as I can tell, the survey only includes scientists now at work at EPA, and not the many who have left, disgusted, over the past seven years. If there were a way to include those scientists, the results may have been even more alarming.

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