FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Burning EPA’s Books

by CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI

Science is not as intimidating as it first appears. Anyone can do it. It is important, however, that when done by scientists it be properly vetted by amateurs. And it is important that ordinary people don’t have too much information since it will simply confuse them. Thanks to the actions of George Bush we will no longer have to fear an excessively informed public that may fall prey to the importunings of scientists who believe themselves able to educate the rest of us and, more daunting still, George Bush. That is because in a moment of unexpected enlightenment Mr. Bush has realized that one of the best ways to control what people think is to control the kinds of information to which people have access. Here is what Mr. Bush has done to restrict the scientific information available to would-be students towards the end of 2006.

He is closing all the libraries run by the Environmental Protection Agency and getting rid of pesky and superfluous scientific documents found in those libraries. The EPA has maintained 29 libraries around the United States for many years that contain information about human health, environmental issues, hazardous waste, pollution control, air quality and all manner of other things with which the EPA concerns itself.

In the 2007 library services budget request by the EPA, Mr. Bush cut $2 million out of the $2.5 million requested. In anticipation of Congressional approval the EPA has already closed its library in Washington D.C. to the public and has completely closed libraries in Chicago, Dallas and Kansas City, Mo. In a letter to Congress protesting the cuts, EPA scientists observe that the $2 million cut is a small part of an $8 billion budget. That will not change Mr. Bush’s mind. Having little, if any knowledge himself and not having found that an impediment to becoming president, he sees no harm in making it harder for others to acquire that which he is lacking. Closing libraries is not the only way Mr. Bush hopes to keep citizens from being infected by knowledge. Scientists at the EPA, like its libraries, have been muzzled.

New regulations have been promulgated at the EPA that provide that when it comes to setting national air-quality standards, political appointees will have a greater role. Formerly independent outside scientists and professional scientists inside the EPA were responsible for setting safety standards for various pollutants. They made recommendations that were then sent to the political appointees who were the agency’s administrators. The recommendations were then forwarded to the White House. This was scientifically sound but it proved embarrassing to the administration when science ran up against the beliefs of George Bush and his political contributors. Under the new procedure this is less likely to happen since independent scientists will only be called on after political hacks and staff scientists have come up with what is now called “policy-relevant” science. The name suggests that policy and science should be given equal weight. The EPA is not alone in this most recent assault on knowledge-based decision-making.

New rules have been promulgated by the U.S. Geological Survey that will avoid having scientists making scientific pronouncements that go against Bush policy and beliefs. Under the new rules agency scientists at the USGS must submit all scientific papers and even minor reports or prepared talks to the USGS’s communications office. The new policy says that the USGS communications office and Mark Myers, the agency’s director, must be “alerted about information products containing high-visibility topics or topics of a policy-sensitive nature.” Mr. Myers and the office must be told prior to any submission for publication “of findings or data that may be especially newsworthy, have an impact on government policy, or contradict previous public understanding to ensure that proper officials are notified and that communication strategies are developed.”

According to Patrick Leahy, the agency’s head of geology and its acting director until September, the new procedure will “harmonize” the review process. It will avoid such unfortunate occurrences as the time in 2002 when the USGS warned that oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would harm the Porcupine Caribou herd. Mr. Bush didn’t believe that. One week later the USGS had a new report saying the herd would be unaffected by the drilling.

Commenting on the new USGS rules, Jim Estes, an internationally recognized marine biologist in the USGS said: “I feel as though we’ve got someone looking over our shoulder at every damn thing we do. And to me that’s a very scary thing. I worry that it borders on censorship.” Mr. Estes is right. We all have someone looking over our shoulders. He’s called George Bush.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. He can be reached at: Brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu. Visit his website: http://hraos.com/

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 23, 2017
John Wight
Manchester Attacks: What Price Hypocrisy?
Patrick Cockburn
A Gathering of Autocrats: Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
Shamus Cooke
Can Trump Salvage His Presidency in Syria’s War?
Thomas S. Harrington
“Risk”: a Sad Comedown for Laura Poitras
Josh White
Towards the Corbyn Doctrine
Mike Whitney
Rosenstein and Mueller: the Regime Change Tag-Team
Jan Oberg
Trump in Riyadh: an Arab NATO Against Syria and Iran
Susan Babbitt
The Most Dangerous Spy You’ve Never Heard Of: Ana Belén Montes
Rannie Amiri
Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
The European Left and the Greek Tragedy
Laura Leigh
This Land is Your Land, Except If You’re a Wild Horse Advocate
Hervé Kempf
Macron, Old World President
Michael J. Sainato
Devos Takes Out Her Hatchet
L. Ali Khan
I’m a Human and I’m a Cartoon
May 22, 2017
Diana Johnstone
All Power to the Banks! The Winners-Take-All Regime of Emmanuel Macron
Robert Fisk
Hypocrisy and Condescension: Trump’s Speech to the Middle East
John Grant
Jeff Sessions, Jesus Christ and the Return of Reefer Madness
Nozomi Hayase
Trump and the Resurgence of Colonial Racism
Rev. William Alberts
The Normalizing of Authoritarianism in America
Frank Stricker
Getting Full Employment: the Fake Way and the Right Way 
Jamie Davidson
Red Terror: Anti-Corbynism and Double Standards
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, Sweden, and Continuing Battles
Robert Jensen
Beyond Liberal Pieties: the Radical Challenge for Journalism
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Extravagant Saudi Trip Distracts from His Crisis at Home
Angie Beeman
Gig Economy or Odd Jobs: What May Seem Trendy to Privileged City Dwellers and Suburbanites is as Old as Poverty
Colin Todhunter
The Public Or The Agrochemical Industry: Who Does The European Chemicals Agency Serve?
Jerrod A. Laber
Somalia’s Worsening Drought: Blowback From US Policy
Michael J. Sainato
Police Claimed Black Man Who Died in Custody Was Faking It
Clancy Sigal
I’m a Trump Guy, So What?
Gerry Condon
In Defense of Tulsi Gabbard
Weekend Edition
May 19, 2017
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Getting Assange: the Untold Story
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Secret Sharer
Charles Pierson
Trump’s First Hundred Days of War Crimes
Paul Street
How Russia Became “Our Adversary” Again
Andrew Levine
Legitimation Crises
Mike Whitney
Seth Rich, Craig Murray and the Sinister Stewards of the National Security State 
Robert Hunziker
Early-Stage Antarctica Death Rattle Sparks NY Times Journalists Trip
Ken Levy
Why – How – Do They Still Love Trump?
Bruce E. Levine
“Hegemony How-To”: Rethinking Activism and Embracing Power
Robert Fisk
The Real Aim of Trump’s Trip to Saudi Arabia
Christiane Saliba
Slavery Now: Migrant Labor in the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia
Chris Gilbert
The Chávez Hypothesis: Vicissitudes of a Strategic Project
Howard Lisnoff
Pay No Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain
Brian Cloughley
Propaganda Feeds Fear and Loathing
Stephen Cooper
Is Alabama Hiding Evidence It Tortured Two of Its Citizens?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail