EPA scientists drop bombshell in political-interference survey

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Science around environmental matters has long been dismissed in the rough and tumble of U.S. politics, but many scientists contend things got markedly worse through two terms under President Bush, as incidents have shown how political appointees were involved in shaping government reports on everything from climate change to condoms.

Now, more than half the 1,600 Environmental Protection Agency scientists who responded to an online questionnaire complained of political pressure in interpreting and performing their work.

And four in 10 scientists who have worked at the agency for more than a decade said interference has been more prevalent in the last five years than previously.

Hundreds of Environmental Protection Agency scientists said they have been victims of political interference and pressure from superiors to skew their findings, according to a survey by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Francesca Grifo, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Scientific Integrity Program, said the survey results revealed “an agency in crisis” with low morale, especially among scientists involved in risk assessment and crafting regulations.

“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,” Grifo said.

The survey comes as EPA is under fire from Congress on a number of fronts, including its delay in determining whether carbon dioxide should be regulated to combat global warming.

EPA scientists described an agency where senior managers and the White House Office of Management and Budget frequently second-guess scientific findings and change work conducted by EPA scientists, the report said.

No surprise there.

Here’s the full report, Interference at the EPA, by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Attached at the end of this post is a pdf version of the full report.

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