Bush Administration Just Says ‘No’ to Science
Over the last 7 years, the current administration has meddled with the affairs of the Environmental Protection Agency to such a degree, that the badgering and tampering is having a detrimental effect on the morale of agency staffers. And the latest news that EPA officials have ceased their efforts to follow a Supreme Court order to propose regulations for carbon dioxide emissions from automobile tailpipes is, yet another, in a long list of examples where the Bush administration has overstepped its legal boundaries and asserted its political will in matters where it shouldn’t.
Even though EPA administrator Stephen L. Johnson agreed with the court’s findings and proposed motor vehicle regulation to the Department of Transportation back in December, the agency has not evaluated dangers nor proposed any regulations – and is not expected to.
The Morale Problem
The recent cover story by Margaret Kriz the National Journal paints a rather dramatic picture of the downward spiraling morale at the EPA and the agency’s decrease in overall effectiveness as a result. Legal experts say that even more than under Bush’s two previous administrators, Christine Todd Whitman and Mike Leavitt, Johnson’s EPA is regularly pushed around by politically powerful advisers at the White House and in other departments. The article states that agency morale is almost as bad as it was in the early 1980s after President Reagan appointed pro-industry Anne Gorsuch Burford to head it. Georgetown Law Professor Danield Esty, said that the current administration has pulled the EPA
“[O]ff to the extreme end of the right-wing perspective on the environment, reflecting not even a consensus within the Republican Party but the views of some who are particularly hostile to the agency’s historic mission.”
The Money Problem
At a time when the nation’s top environmental regulators face increasingly complex pollution problems, President Bush is pushing for dramatic cuts in EPA’s budget. The White House’s proposed fiscal 2009 budget would provide just $7.1 billion — fewer actual dollars than EPA has received in any fiscal year since 1997.
Riding It Out
In the meantime, disgruntled EPA professionals are longing for the day when the next administration takes over their agency and they can go to work knowing that their science will receive the attention it deserves and the funding it requires. A scathing editorial in Nature wrote that
“In a rational world, Johnson would resign in favour of someone who could at least feign an interest in the environment. Alas, it seems that he will probably stay on until January 2009, refusing waivers, fighting lawsuits and further depressing employees’ morale.”