Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Why Does Bush HATE Science???

Bush Closes EPA Libraries Without Approval from Congress; Will Gut Research and Cost Millions. Why Does He Hate Science?

Submitted by BuzzFlash on Wed, 09/20/2006 - 12:12pm.


The Bush Administration's decision to reduce EPA funding and eliminate several scientific research libraries has been challenged by Democratic House Ranking Members Bart Gordon, John Dingell, and Henry Waxman in a letter to the GAO. "We have grace concerns of this plan on the EPA's ability to protect the environment, and we question whether the plan will actually save the government money," they wrote.

President Bush's proposed 2007 budget slashed 80% of the funding for the library network, which contains 50,000 unique documents not found elsewhere along with vast resources relied upon by agency staff, scientists in academia and industry, and the general public. The EPA has already begun preemptively closing facilities despite the fact that Congress has yet to actually approve the president's budget. By September 30, 15 states will have lost their libraries, and other states will begin losing hours and services.

The closures have already sparked outrage by scientists and environmentalists. Last June, BuzzFlash reported on a complaint filed on behalf of 10,000 EPA scientists over the cuts. In August the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance issued a position paper suggesting the plan is seriously flawed and will undermine the ability of scientists to do their jobs of protecting the public and the environment.

Bizarrely, Bush is trying to close the libraries despite the fact that the network actually saves far more money in improved efficiency than it costs to maintain. While Bush wants to gut nearly all of the $2.5 million budget, estimates indicate that the libraries save staff about 214,000 hours each year, worth about $7.5 million.

Though EPA officials claim the plan will allow for "modernization" by digitizing documents, the Democratic letter expressed reservations over whether information will actually be maintained. "It appears that EPA plans to shut libraries first and digitize documents later," they wrote. "It is unclear from the budget proposal or the plan what funds will be allocated to ensuring that paper and microfiche documents will be digitized and made available electronically.

"EPA's activities are funded by the public and are designed to serve the public," the letter says. "A shuttered library does not further open and transparent government."

Click here to read the letter (PDF)



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