Thursday, April 24, 2008

EPA SCIENTISTS REPORT POLITICAL PRESSURE

AP Hundreds of Environmental Protection Agency scientists say they have been pressured by superiors to skew their findings, according to a survey by an advocacy group. The Union of Concerned Scientists said more than half of the nearly 1,600 EPA staff scientists who responded online to a detailed questionnaire reported they had experienced incidents of political interference in their work.

EPA spokesman Jonathan Shradar attributed some of the discontent to the "passion" scientists have toward their work. He said EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, as a longtime career scientist at the EPA himself, "weighs heavily the science given to him by the staff in making policy decisions."

But Francesca Grifo, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists' Scientific Integrity Program, said the survey results revealed "an agency in crisis" and "under siege from political pressures" 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," said Grifo. . .

The report said 60 percent of those responding, or 889 scientists, reported personally experiencing what they viewed as political interference in their work over the last five years. Four in 10 scientists who have worked at the agency for more than a decade said they believe such interference has been more prevalent in the last five years than in the previous five years.