April 28, 2008
A new survey of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists adds further fuel to the growing firestorm over political interference by the Bush White House on scientific matters. The nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists polled some 1,600 EPA staffers via a written survey while personally interviewing dozens more and analyzing thousands of pages of government documents. Researchers found that "on numerous issues--ranging from mercury pollution to groundwater contamination to climate change--political appointees have edited scientific documents, manipulated scientific assessments, and generally sought to undermine the science behind dozens of EPA regulations." The overall picture, according to UCS, is of "an agency under siege from political pressures."
UCS found that 60 percent of the survey respondents "reported personally experiencing what they viewed as political interference in their work over the last five years." Four in 10 scientists who have worked at EPA for more than a decade said they believe such interference has been more prevalent in the last five years than beforehand.
"The investigation shows researchers are generally continuing to do their work, but their scientific findings are tossed aside when it comes time to write regulations," Francesca Grifo, director of the Union of...