Thursday, March 30, 2006
Pentagon stifles EPA scientists
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) investigated the solvent, trichloroethylene, extensively used on military bases, after significant quantities were found in water supplies. In its report, published in 2001, the EPA found it to be 40 times more likely to cause cancer than had been previously thought, and recommended tough safety standards to limit public exposure. There was also evidence the chemical played a role in birth defects.Thus we have yet another example of this administrations war on science. When the science does not fit the policy the political appointees simply ignore the scientists.
But the Los Angeles Times reported that the defence department, which owns 1,400 bases and other sites contaminated by trichloroethylene (TCE), fought the findings, challenging their scientific basis. Under pressure from the Pentagon, political appointees at the EPA overruled their own scientists, took them off the case and postponed action pending a further study by the National Academy of Sciences, which is due to report this summer.
"The evidence is that there was some monkey business going on between the EPA and the Pentagon," said Gina Solomon, an expert on environmental medicine at the University of California, who was on the scientific board that reviewed the EPA report. "The 2001 report was an excellent piece of scientific work," Dr Solomon told the Guardian.
President Bush recently has talked about educating more scientists. In the most recent state of the union address he called for training 70,000 math and science teachers. Just yesterday the administration floated a proposal to hold schools accountable for low testing scores in science. (HAH! I linked to the Washington Times in support of bashing Bush!)
This clearly is a tailor made case of the fittingness of the admonition "physician, heal thyself". Before the President pretends to be the benefactor of future generations of science, he ought to correct the attitude of his administration to modern day science which does not comport to their world view.
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