White House Policy Undermining EPA Scientists On Cancer Risks Of Chemicals, GAO Says
WASHINGTON, Apr. 28, 2008
(AP) The Bush administration is undermining the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to determine health dangers of toxic chemicals by letting nonscientists have a bigger _ often secret _ say, congressional investigators say in a report obtained by The Associated Press.
The administration's decision to give the Defense Department and other agencies an early role in the process adds to years of delay in acting on harmful chemicals and jeopardizes the program's credibility, the Government Accountability Office concluded.
Cancer risk assessments for nearly a dozen major chemicals are now years overdue, the GAO said, blaming the new multiagency reviews for some of the delay. The EPA, for example, had promised to prepare assessments on 10 major toxic chemicals for external peer review by the end of 2007, but only two reached that stage.
GAO investigators said extensive involvement by EPA managers, White House budget officials and other agencies has eroded the independence of EPA scientists charged with determining the health risks posed by chemicals.
The Pentagon, the Energy Department, NASA and other agencies _ all of which could be severely affected by EPA risk findings _ are being allowed to participate "at almost every step in the assessment process," said the GAO.
Those agencies, their private contractors and manufacturers of the chemicals face restrictions and major cleanup requirements, depending on the EPA's scientific determinations.
The GAO investigation focused on the EPA's computerized database, known as IRIS _ the Integrated Risk Information System. It contains data on the human health effects of exposure to some 540 toxic chemicals in the environment. New chemicals are being roposed constantly for inclusion under a complicated assessment process that can take five years or more.
After years of stops and starts, the GAO said, the EPA has yet to determine carcinogen risks for a number of major chemicals such as:
_Naphthalene, a chemical used in rocket fuel as well as in manufacturing commercial products such as mothballs, dyes and insecticides.
_Trichloroethylene, or TCE, a widely used industrial degreasing agent.
_Perchloroethylene, or "perc," a chemical used in dry cleaning, metal degreasing and making chemical products.
_Formaldehyde, a colorless, flammable gas used to making building materials.
Environmentalists say these chemicals have been widely found at military bases and Superfund sites and in soil, lakes, streams and groundwater.
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Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.
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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:
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- We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
- It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)