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Survey Finds Bush Administration Interfering with EPA Scientists - 7 May 2008
WASHINGTON, DC, April 24, 2008 (ENS) - The Bush administration has frequently meddled with scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to a survey released today by a scientific advocacy group. The Union of Concerned Scientists reports that nearly two-thirds of the 1,586 staff EPA scientists who responded to a questionnaire complained of recent political interference with their work.
The reported interference is greatest in offices where scientists write regulations and conduct risk assessments. Francesca Grifo (Photo courtesy Sunshine Week) "Our investigation found an agency in crisis," said Francesca Grifo, director of Union of Concerned Scientists's Scientific Integrity Program, who contends the report reflects an effort by the administration to distort science to "accommodate a narrow political agenda." The investigation shows that researchers "are generally continuing to do their work, but their scientific findings are tossed aside when it comes time to write regulations," said Grifo. The report is the latest addition to a long list of complaints by scientists across the federal government who say the Bush administration has inappropriately interfered with their work and frequently manipulated science for the benefit of industry.
The Union of Concerned Scientists, UCS, has conducted similar surveys with staff at the Food and Drug Administration, Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and found comparable allegations of political meddling.
The advocacy group also published a report on climate science last year, detailing significant interference by the Bush administration with climate scientists at seven federal agencies.
This latest report contains complaints that political appointees have manipulated EPA scientific findings and analyses. Agency scientists reported inappropriate editing of documents, pressure from political appointees to scientific methods and findings, and needless delays of scientific reports. EPA scientists in the field verify environmental sampling, monitoring, and measurement technologies. (Photo courtesy EPA)
The survey reports concern by agency scientists over political meddling with EPA's scientific assessments of climate change and with the science supporting regulation of mercury and other air pollutants.
Agency scientists also complained of interference with EPA's assessment of toxic chemicals and pesticides and with its oversight of groundwater contamination.
UCS sent its survey to more than 5,400 EPA scientists at the agency's headquarters, research laboratories and 10 regional offices.
Of the 1,586 who responded, 60 percent reported they had personally experienced at least one instance of political interference in the past five years.
More than 500 EPA scientists knew of "many" or "some" cases "where EPA political appointees had inappropriately involved themselves in scientific decisions," according to the study.
Nearly 400 scientists, some 31 percent, reported misstatements by EPA officials that misrepresented scientists' findings, UCS said.
The report said 22 percent complained of political appointees using selective or incomplete use of data to justify a specific regulatory outcome.