U.S. Scientists Facing Politocal Repression

U.S. environment scientists report political meddling
Wed Apr 23, 2008 7:10pm EDT By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Nearly 900 scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency have experienced political interference in their work in the last five years, the Union of Concerned Scientists reported on Wednesday.

The nonprofit environmental organization said its investigation of EPA was in line with previous probes of other U.S. agencies which found “significant administration manipulation of federal science.”

A government spokesman denied this, and said scientific findings were balanced with policy concerns.

“Our investigation found an agency in crisis,” said Francesca Grifo of the Union of Concerned Scientists, referring to the Environmental Protection Agency. “Distorting science to accommodate a narrow political agenda threatens our environment, our health and our democracy itself.”

The report included interviews with current and former staff members, analysis of government documents and a questionnaire sent to 5,419 EPA scientists, which generated 1,586 responses.

Of those responses, 889 scientists or 60 percent, said they had personally experienced at least one instance of political interference in the last five years; 394 said they experienced frequent or occasional “statements by EPA officials that misrepresent scientists’ findings.”

More than one-fifth, or 285, said they had experienced “selective or incomplete use of data to justify a specific regulatory outcome,” the report said.

Nearly 100 scientists said the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was the main offender.

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