Monday :: Sep 22, 2003

White House Worked With Industry to Undermine EPA


by Steve

Although many of you believe that the environment will be a second-tier issue in 2004, I believe that the issue of corporate ownership of this White House will not be. As proof of how bad it really is, I give you this. We knew that the climate change report issued by the EPA months ago was watered down by the White House political types to conform to their dogma. What wasn’t known is that the White House actively worked with an industry group to discredit its own EPA scientists and if necessary force the resignation of high EPA officials, including Christie Whitman.

White House officials have undermined their own government scientists' research into climate change to play down the impact of global warming, an investigation by The Observer can reveal.

Emails and internal government documents obtained by The Observer show that officials have sought to edit or remove research warning that the problem is serious. They have enlisted the help of conservative lobby groups funded by the oil industry to attack US government scientists if they produce work seen as accepting too readily that pollution is an issue.

Central to the revelations of double dealing is the discovery of an email sent to Phil Cooney, chief of staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, by Myron Ebell, a director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). The CEI is an ultra-conservative lobby group that has received more than $1 million in donations since 1998 from the oil giant Exxon, which sells Esso petrol in Britain.

The email, dated 3 June 2002, reveals how White House officials wanted the CEI's help to play down the impact of a report last summer by the government's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in which the US admitted for the first time that humans are contributing to global warming. 'Thanks for calling and asking for our help,' Ebell tells Cooney.

The email discusses possible tactics for playing down the report and getting rid of EPA officials, including its then head, Christine Whitman. 'It seems to me that the folks at the EPA are the obvious fall guys and we would only hope that the fall guy (or gal) should be as high up as possible,' Ebell wrote in the email. 'Perhaps tomorrow we will call for Whitman to be fired,' he added.

'This email indicates a secret initiative by the administration to invite and orchestrate a lawsuit against itself seeking to discredit an official US government report on global warming dangers,' said Richard Blumenthal, attorney general of Connecticut, who has written to the White House asking for an inquiry.

(E)nvironmentalists say the email fits a pattern of collusion between the Bush administration and conservative groups funded by the oil industry, who lobby against efforts to control carbon dioxide emissions, the main cause of global warming.

Other confidential documents obtained by The Observer detail White House efforts to suppress research that shows the world's climate is warming. A four-page internal EPA memo reveals that Bush's staff insisted on major amendments to the climate change section of an environmental survey of the US, published last June. One alteration indicated 'that no further changes may be made'.

Former EPA climate policy adviser Jeremy Symons said morale at the agency had been devastated by the administration's tactics. He painted a picture of scientists afraid to conduct research for fear of angering their White House paymasters. 'They do good research,' he said. 'But they feel that they have a boss who does not want them to do it. And if they do it right, then they will get hit or their work will be buried.'

So you have an administration that is willing to work with contributors to target its own employees and appointees for political purposes, and encourage litigation against the public interest, incurring costs to the taxpayer and undermining years of federal law and regulation. This approach, known as “sue and settle”, has been a staple of the Bush Administration since they came into office.

Steve :: 2:14 PM :: Comments (2) :: Digg It!