Results of investigations by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) paint the EPA as an agency under siege from political pressures.
Political appointees “have edited scientific documents, manipulated scientific assessments, and generally sought to undermine the science behind dozens of EPA regulations,” according to the report (PDF) from the UCS Scientific Integrity Program.
“… Challenges from industry lobbyists and some political leaders to the agency’s decisions have too often led to the suppression and distortion of the scientific findings underlying those decisions – to the detriment of both science and the health of our nation,” according to the report.
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was the main offender, according to nearly 100 scientists participating in the UCS’ survey, compromising “the integrity of EPA rules and policies.” EPA spokesman Jonathan Shradar denied these allegations in a news report .
This isn’t the first time questions have been raised about political influence at the EPA. Similar allegations were made following the EPA’s denial of California’s Emissions waiver request.
The UCS said its findings highlight the need for reforms to protect EPA scientists, make agency decision making more transparent, and reduce politicization of the regulatory process.
The group is calling for Congress, the next president, and the next EPA administrator to restore independence and scientific integrity to the EPA by:
- Protecting EPA Scientists;
- Making the EPA More Transparent;
- Reforming the Regulatory Process;
- Ensuring Robust Scientific Input to EPA’s Decision Making; and
- Depoliticizing Funding, Monitoring, and Enforcement.
A scientist from the EPA regional offices is quoted in the report: “There are still good scientists producing good science at USEPA. The main problem I see is an administration that considers science only if it supports its agenda. As in other areas, science is used only if it furthers preexisting policy; otherwise it is ignored, marginalized or suppressed (e.g. climate change).”