bush mendacity watch
The Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board takes it to the hoop agains Bush once again: Policy as arcade game: When science crosses Bush agenda, it takes a beating.
President Bush is playing Whack-a-Mole with scientific reports that he doesn't like:
Uncomfortable facts about global warming pop up in an environmental report card. Whack!
Yellowstone National Park staffers tell a world treasures watchdog that the park is in trouble. Whack!
The Environmental Protection Agency discovers a senator's clean air bill is more effective than the President's. Whack!
But the moles are popping up faster than the Bush team can beat them back. Information is leaking out. A pattern of deception is emerging.
Despite their constant talk about "sound science," Bush administration officials keep manipulating or suppressing scientific information for political reasons. This censorship limits the ability of Congress and the American people to make informed public-policy choices. It needs to stop.
The latest flap involves the EPA's withholding of a key comparison of air pollution bills. The report shows that a bill to regulate power plants sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper (D., Del.) would reduce more pollutants, provide superior health benefits, and cost only marginally more than the centerpiece of Bush's environmental policy, his Clear Skies Initiative.
Bush touted Clear Skies in his January State of the Union address, and counts on passing it this summer to bolster his domestic record before his 2004 reelection campaign.
EPA is acting as little more than the White House's propaganda puppet, churning out Clear Skies press releases. Before debating power-plant cleanup, the Senate will need to turn elsewhere for factual analysis of pending bills. A third power plant bill, sponsored by Sen. Jim Jeffords (I., Vt.), should be included in any comparison.
The Jeffords and Carper bills rightly regulate carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that causes global warming - a topic too hot for Bush to handle.
Two weeks ago, the EPA had to omit the entire global-warming section from its "Draft Report on the Environment," a 30-year statistical snapshot of the U.S. environment, after the administration tried to replace solid findings with "pabulum," according to outgoing EPA administrator Christie Whitman. As a partial substitute, the White House wanted to insert a reference to a study partly financed by the petroleum industry. Whitman rightly said no. But the administration has edited global warming out of numerous other reports. That's ignorant.
Meanwhile, the Interior Department, which oversees national parks and other public lands, is busy sugarcoating any "bad" scientific findings.
In April, an Interior official toned down concerns expressed by Yellowstone's staff to the United Nations World Heritage Committee, which was contemplating whether to keep Yellowstone on its list of endangered sites. The staff had noted continuing threats to the park's streams, wildlife and visitor experience. The whitewash worked. Last week, Yellowstone was delisted.
In 2001, the Interior Department told the U.S. Geological Survey to "try again" when it found that drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was likely to hurt musk oxen and Porcupine caribou. Scientists were given 10 days to "simulate scenarios" that showed lesser environmental impact.
More than once the President has ordered new scientific studies only to have them confirm earlier findings he disliked. The most vexing for him was the arsenic standard for drinking water in 2001. Whitman contended that the rule had been hastily crafted late in the Clinton administration without adequate study or consideration of the costs to small communities. Studies proved otherwise. Under intense public pressure, Whitman had no choice but to uphold the tough standard.
In another instance - snowmobiling in Yellowstone - the administration blatantly disregarded its own scientists' repeated warnings and sided with the machines, and the people who make and ride them.
President Bush talks a good deal about "sound science." Apparently, his definition of the term is: science that supports his political agenda.
Memo to Democrats: connect the dots:
Pattern of deception.
Science that supports his political agenda.
Bush can't be trusted. Simple, really. And obvious.