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EPA Continues Its War On Science

451 v1, by miscpix @ FlickrTying in with this article by the BadAstronomer about the war on Science by the George W. Bush Administration, allow me to add an update to one of my own stories.

Back in December, I wrote a long piece about the EPA closing its libraries for the political and economic expediency of the President and his big business backers.

The quick and dirty version is this:

The Environmental Protection Agency began to quietly close its physical libraries to the public, scientists, and even its own employees, without proper notice and in violation of federal regulation. Further, they immediately began selling off all the physical assets of the libraries including the microfiche readers, the cabinets, and even the book cases, in an effort to ensure the libraries would be unable to re-open.

The stated rationale was basically two-fold: to save money, and to digitize all the records. Both of those excuses were roundly exposed as lies, as the process would actually come with a rather large pricetag, and the records were not at all being digitized. In fact, the records that were already online were being destroyed as well.

After a large public and governmental outcry (even the EPA’s own scientists are against this but as is typical for this administration, the scientists were ignored), the EPA relented to the newly elected Congress and said it wouldn’t close any more libraries without Congressional authorization.

Big surprise, they lied.

According to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the EPA has quietly resumed closing the libraries.

Washington, DC — Despite promises to consult with Congress before proceeding with dismantlement of its library system, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered its libraries to “disperse or dispose of their…contents,” according to agency directives released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The move to eliminate physical collections comes as EPA’s own enforcement branch warns about the risks of hampering environmental prosecutions.

This time around, the EPA is even going after the laboratories, and again, the scientists are protesting the insane Orwellian practices of the EPA:

The EPA scientists say planned reductions target the very programs that are critical for addressing emerging environmental threats, such as global warming.

In calling for congressional intervention, the petition cites a budget-driven agenda that does not take into account the effects on “the quality and quantity of work produced at U.S. EPA’s laboratories”, including:

  • Plans to close a minimum of 20% of the “laboratory infrastructure” within the next four years;
  • An agency budget memo calling for identification of “low hanging fruit” in research programs whose elimination would produce immediate savings; and
  • A crippling disinvestment in EPA scientific capacity.

In contrast to these reductions, the EPA scientists argue that a greater research effort is needed to address new environmental threats. Pointing to recent closure of EPA technical libraries, the petition warns:

“If the U.S. EPA shutters or consolidates its laboratories like it did its libraries, the very mission of the U.S. EPA would be in jeopardy.”

Indeed, that is apparently the point:

Even as Congress moves to reverse EPA’s library closures, the agency is now racing to cement new procedures restricting the ability of the public to locate or read technical documents in the agency’s possession. A new proposed policy circulated internally for comment on July 11, 2007 provides:

“Repository libraries are not required to provide public access to their collections…”

It is yet more evidence that this administration’s goal is to turn science into nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Republican party’s political agenda.

Let me close this article by reiterating my December closing remarks.

There is no longer any pretense behind which they can hide. The administration is deliberately denying access to publicly owned federal documents and records. It is actively blocking scientists and researchers from exposing the damage that large polluters are doing to the environment. It is closing off information about global warming and astrophysics. It isn’t doing it to save money, it isn’t doing it to modernize access. It is doing it to promote an alternate reality wherein the public sees and hears only what the White House wants it to see and hear.

These tactics are well known across the globe. There have been many governments over time that limited the free access to information. Not a one of them did it for democratic principles. Not a one of them did it for the people.

This administration is no exception. George W. Bush, who is the ultimate boss of the EPA and other executive branch libraries, is responsible for this egregious attempt at censoring information from the public that directly contradicts his propaganda version of reality.

This war on science led by the President must be stopped in its tracks.

From whence came the art:

That photograph is titled 451 v1, by miscpix.

Filed under: Education, Environment, Politics, Rants, Science

24 Responses

  1. Deacon Barry says:

    All you can do is try and keep this in the public arena. It sure as hell ain’t going to feature on Fox news any time soon.

  2. JanieBelle says:

    Doin’ what I can Deacon.

    You’re right about Faux News. That’s little more than a Fundy Whack Job evangelization device. The only thing missing is the pretty music of the choir.

    Kisses

  3. Infophile says:

    …about global warming and astrophysics.

    Where did astrophysics come into this? Are they afraid we’ll show that the universe is older than 6,000 years or something?

    Fixed. – jb

  4. Infophile says:

    Bah, sorry, those should be <blockquote> tags. Used the message board version by mistake.

  5. JanieBelle says:

    Hi Infophile,

    The astrophysics came in in the original article I posted in December:

    The NASA library in Greenbelt, Md., was part of John C. Mather’s daily routine for years leading up to the astrophysicist’s 2006 Nobel Prize for shedding new light on the Big Bang theory of universal origin.

    So when he learned that federal officials are planning to close the library, Mather was stunned.

    “It is completely absurd,” he said. “The library is a national treasure. It is probably the single strongest library for space science and engineering in the universe.”12

  6. Deacon Barry says:

    Trouble is, I’m kinda stuck with Fox news and CNN for all American news, seeing how I’ve a) got Sky, and b) I’m in Scotland. Mind you, knowing it’s Republican dreck helps keep things in perspective. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to it if the Democrats win next year, and Rupert Murdoch decides that his interests are better served by catering to a full Democrat administration. If Murdoch decides that Fox will support the Dems, then Fox WILL support them – no questions asked. Just imagine Bill O’Reilly having to mouth off against those Wingnut Crackpots, to keep his job!

  7. JanieBelle says:

    While I would indeed find that rather personally satisfying, I believe you give Mr. Murdoch too much (too little) credit.

    Time will tell, I suppose.

    Kisses

  8. Musicguy says:

    that’s just sad. What’s even worse is that most Americans are probably too stupid to even know what the EPA is and how detrimental this can all be. May the goddess help us!

  9. JanieBelle says:

    Indeed, Musicguy.

    I sincerely get the impression that most Americans just don’t care about what’s going on around them. As long as they can be left alone while watching American Idol and Survivor, it just doesn’t matter to them.

  10. Martyne says:

    Orwellian came to mind before you mentioned it. Democracy looks great on paper but it can lead to jumped up house plants effectively running the world. Scary or what? Thankfully we don’t have a moral or moronal (is that a real word?) majority putting pressure on the government in our mainly secular society. Today it was announced that there are proposals to put video cameras in the homes of drug addicts to protect their children. How “Telescreen” is that? What a prophetic man George was. I of course refer to Mr Orwell, as that Bush bloke is sadly still in the present tense and he wouldn’t even know how to spell the word.

  11. d.vrai says:

    Henceforth EPA should not be pronounced E-P-A, rather phonetically as “Eee’Puh!” as done by Gramps in the Simpson’s movie. It sounds much spookier, no?

  12. Kevin says:

    JB, do you have any source for this aside from PEER. Not that I doubt that Bush would do this but PEER has in the past proven themselves to be most untrustworthy. Here’s a past example http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/07-01-17.html

  13. JanieBelle says:

    Hi everybody,

    Forgive the brevity, I’ve only got time for a quicky:

    Martyne,

    Agreed.

    d.

    You crack me up, and I like that.

    Kevin,

    Point taken, and while I have to admit I didn’t look any further than PEER for the quick follow up, here’s the bibliography for the original article with links.

    Listed quickly without linkies below:

    1. Yubanet Original Story
    2. Yubanet Follow-Up
    3. Truthout.org
    4. Huffington Post
    5. Science Friday podcast (.mp3)
    6. Cox News
    7. Boston Globe
    8. Austin American Statesman
    9. Facing South, the blog of the Institute for Southern Studies
    10. Seattle Post Intelligencer
    11. New York Times op-ed
    12. Houston Chronicle

    If you happen across contrary or supporting articles, do be sure to pop back here and let me know, as I try to be as accurate as possible. I’d be pissed if this report on the resumption of library closings turns out to be bullhockey, but not as pissed as I am if it’s true.

    Geez, there’s just no way I’m going to be happy about this no matter how it turns out.

    A girl just can’t get a break.

    😦

  14. Martyne says:

    A “quicky” sounds great Janiebelle. Your place or mine?

  15. I found this Janie, but it’s not exactly written in stone yet…it lloks promising though.

  16. JanieBelle says:

    Martyne,

    Yours. I really love the UK.

    Criminy,

    Found what? Should there have been a link there?

  17. Martyne says:

    You are on girl. Just let my hair loose (it’s usually scrunchied up) and it reaches down to my nipples. Thought you might like to know.

  18. yes, but i’ve posted it twice now, and your blog won’t allow it

    hi janie

    add http:// to this
    http://www.lib.utk.edu/news/scitech/archives//001942.html

  19. yes but your blog isn’t accepting comments from me with links in them

  20. JanieBelle says:

    Found ’em. They got trapped in the spam filter for some reason.

    Sorry ’bout that CJ.

  21. no apology required…i wish my spam catcher caught more of my comments.

  22. […] with science and edit out the parts of it they don’t like.  They’ve done it at the EPA, NIH, NASA, wherever they’ve been able to get a political hack to use as a mouthpiece between […]

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