April 23, 2008

Whitehouse: Report on Politicization at EPA Demands Congressional Oversight

Union of Concerned Scientists Releases Survey of EPA Scientists

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, said Congress should look further into repeated instances in which the Bush administration put politics before science, a subject detailed in a report released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

The report documented numerous cases in which work by scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was edited, manipulated, or undermined by Bush administration political appointees. Whitehouse has been an outspoken critic of EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson and the Bush administration’s environmental policy.

“When EPA’s own scientists say Americans can’t trust the agency to protect our environment, it is a scathing indictment of the Bush administration’s repeated efforts to twist, misuse, and ignore scientific facts in favor of special interests,” Whitehouse said today.

“This report documents case after case after case of political interference in scientific and regulatory decisions, when the final outcome was determined not by what would be best for the environment and the public, but by what the President or his political allies and campaign contributors wanted. Those misplaced priorities have cost this country dearly, and I plan to investigate this issue further in upcoming months as the EPW committee continues its oversight of the Bush administration’s politicization of science.”

The UCS report stated that its investigation showed “an agency under siege from political pressures.” 60 percent of EPA scientists who responded to a UCS survey reported having personally experienced at least one incident of political interference during the past five years, with hundreds citing situations in which scientists objected to or removed themselves from a project because of pressure to change their findings; changes were made to documents that changed the meaning of scientific findings; or EPA officials misrepresented scientific findings.

In response to the UCS survey, one scientist at an EPA regional office wrote: “Do not trust the Environmental Protection Agency to protect your environment.”


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921