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3. Bush Administration Manipulates Science and Censors Scientists

THE NATION, March 8, 2004
Title: “The Junk Science of George W. Bush”
Author: Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

CENSORSHIP NEWS: THE NATIONAL COALITION AGAINST CENSORSHIP NEWSLETTER, Fall 2003, #91
Title: “Censoring Scientific Information”

ENVIRONMENT NEWS SERVICE and ONEWORLD.NET, February 20, 2004
Title: “Ranking Scientists Warn Bush Science Policy Lacks Integrity”
Author: Sunny Lewis

OFFICE OF U.S. REPRESENTATIVE HENRY A. WAXMAN, August 2003
Title: “Politics And Science In The Bush Administration”
Prepared by: Committee on Government Reform – Minority Staff
(Updated November 13, 2003)

Faculty Evaluator: Dolly Friedel, Ph.D.
Student Researchers: Sita Khalsa, Jeni Green

Critics charge that the Bush Administration is purging, censoring, and manipulating scientific information in order to push forward its pro-business, anti-environmental agenda. In Washington, D.C. more than 60 of the nation’s top scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, leading medical experts, and former federal agency directors, issued a statement on February 18, 2004 accusing the Bush Administration of deliberately distorting scientific results for political ends and calling for regulatory and legislative action to restore scientific integrity to federal policymaking.

Under the current administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has blacklisted qualified scientists who pose a threat to its pro-business ideology. When a team of biologists working for the EPA indicated that there had been a violation of the “Endangered Species Act” by the Army Corps of Engineers, the group was replaced with a “corporate-friendly” panel. In addition, a nationally respected biologist, Dr. James Zahn, was ordered by EPA representatives not to publish a study identifying a health endangering bacteria in industrial hog farms.

The Bush Administration is appointing unqualified scientists with close industry ties to the advisory boards. The Office of Human Services appointed several individuals with ties to the lead industry. One of their appointees testified that lead levels, seven times the current limit, are safe for children.

In the case of global warming, the Bush Administration has made efforts to stall actions by Congress designed to control industrial emissions. The EPA altered a report on the environmental damage of a hydraulic fracturing process developed by Halliburton, Dick Cheney’s former company. Hydraulic fracturing involves the injection of benzene into the ground, which in turn contaminates ground water supplies over the federal limit.

In December 2002, the EPA weakened a Clean Air Act regulation, known as the New Source Review (NSR), to make it easier for coal fired utilities to generate more power without having to install additional emissions controls. The Bush Administration halted the prosecution of some 50 power plants that were alleged to be in violation of the of the old NSR rule while at the same time drastically reducing funding for the Superfund toxic cleanup program. In October 2003, the General Accounting Office, Congress’ investigative arm, reported that the revised NSR rule could “limit assurance of the public’s access to data about and input on decisions to modify facilities in ways that affect emissions.” Essentially, this makes it more difficult for the public to monitor local emissions, health risks, and NSR compliance.

In June 2003, the Administration published its “comprehensive” report on the environment—that contained no information on climate change and did not address global warming.

The EPA claimed a few days after the 9/11 catastrophe that the air quality was safe in the security zone surrounding the World Trade Center. An Inspector General’s report released in August 2003 revealed that press releases were being drafted or doctored by White House officials in order to quickly reopen Wall Street.

A study conducted by the EPA found that high levels of atrazine, a carcinogen, were discovered in drinking water, well over the government standard allotment. When the findings were reported, the Bush Administration did not address the level of atrazine, but instead moved the research to a company in Switzerland, taking environmental control away from local scientists.

In January 2003, President Bush appointed marketing consultant Jerry Thacker to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. Mr. Thacker has referred to homosexuality derogatorily and has described AIDS as the “gay plague.” In May 2003, the New York Times reported that Health and Human Services (HHS) may be applying “unusual scrutiny” to grants that used key words such as “men who sleep with men,” “gay,” and “homosexual.”

Princeton University scientist Michael Oppenheimer states, “If you believe in a rational universe, in enlightenment, in knowledge and in a search for the truth, this White House is an absolute disaster.”

UPDATE BY MR. KENNEDY: The story was the first comprehensive compilation of the systematic assault of federal science orchestrated by the White House and affecting all the federal departments that oversee the environment and public health.

During the week it was published, the Union of Concerned Scientists published another report detailing the Bush Administration’s assault on government science and its practice of purging and muzzling government science whose pronouncements impede corporate profit-taking. Twenty Nobel Prize winners have signed a letter to the President condemning the suppressing and distorting of federal science.

Numerous articles have appeared in nationally prominent publications discussing the issue, many of them citing The Nation cover story.

You can contact Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) or visit their website at . I am currently writing a book for Harper Collins titled Crimes Against Nature to be published this fall about the administration’s attack on the environment. The book is based on the article with the same title which was published in the December 8, 2003 Rolling Stone issue.