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POLLUTING SCIENCE

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Many Environmental Protection Agency scientists surveyed by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit group, said they have personally experienced political interference in their work. EPA officials deny any wrongdoing. Here are examples of interference, according to the group:

· Air-pollution monitoring: The EPA allowed North Dakota to change the way it measured air quality in 2004. That brought Theodore Roosevelt National Park into compliance with air-quality standards without reducing pollution.

· Atrazin e: The EPA decided not to regulate atrazine even though scientists had documented evidence about the harmful effects of the common weed killer. Industry groups challenged the scientific studies and pressed their case in private meetings with agency officials.

· Fuel efficiency: In 2005, the EPA delayed its annual report on automotive fuel efficiency until after Congress voted on a bill regarding fuel-efficiency standards.

· Plywood-plant pollution: The Office of Management and Budget distorted scientific information on the dangers of formaldehyde exposure to support weakening the regulation of harmful emissions from plywood manufacturers.

· Air quality: After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the EPA issued statements that the air near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan was safe to breathe. But the agency lacked authoritative data for that claim and ignored internal data that conflicted with it.

SOURCE: Union of Concerned Scientists, "Interference at the EPA: Science and Politics at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency" ( http://www.ucsusa.org)

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