POLITICS

EPA Scientists Report Political Pressure From The White House

05/02/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to be non-partisan, but that has not been the case under the Bush administration. The Washington Post reports:

More than half the Environmental Protection Agency scientists who responded to an independent survey made public yesterday said that they had witnessed political interference in scientific decisions at the agency during the past five years.

The claim comes from a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit advocacy group that sent questionnaires to 5,500 EPA scientists and obtained 1,586 responses. Among the scientists' complaints were that data sometimes were used selectively to justify a specific regulatory outcome and that political appointees had directed them to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information in EPA scientific documents.

While these allegations have been around for some time, this is the first time that it has been documented beyond anecdotal evidence, the LA Times reports:

But Francesca Grifo, director of the scientific integrity program for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Washington-based nonprofit group, said the survey documented the widespread nature of the problem at the EPA. "What we've been up against until now is anecdotal evidence," Grifo said.

EPA scientists are divided over the impact of the political interference, but they have singled out the Office of Management and Budget at the White House for being particularly political:

In optional essays, scientists repeatedly singled out the Office of Management and Budget at the White House, accusing officials there of inserting themselves into decision-making at early stages in a way that shaped the outcome of their inquiries. They also alleged that the OMB delayed rules not to its liking. EPA actions "are held hostage" until changes are made, a scientist from the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation wrote.

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