The following are several notable examples of censorship of science since publication of NCAC's original report “Political Science: a Report on Science and Censorship” in early 2006.
CENSORSHIP OF SCIENCE 2006-2008:
Political appointees heavily edit the written and oral testimony on carbon dioxide emissions (July 20, 2006).
Political appointees at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Commerce Department heavily edited the written and oral testimony of Dr. Thomas Karl, the Director of the NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, before the House Committee on Climate Change Science–altering and removing Karl’s statements which found carbon dioxide emissions, a result of burning of fossil fuels, to be a serious cause of global warming.
The EPA loosens requirements to its Toxics Release Inventory Program (December 2006).
Under pressure from the White House Office of Management and Budget, the EPA eased chemical reporting requirements for their Toxics Release Inventory Program. New York Attorney General, Andrew M. Cuomo, who led a coalition of 12 states in a lawsuit against the EPA (to have the reporting requirements restored), summarized the effect of the change as “rob[bing] New Yorkers—and people across the country—of their right to know about toxic dangers in their own backyards.”
The White House pressures the EPA to deny California the ability to regulate greenhouse gasses (2007).
Under the Clean Air Act, states may enact more stringent regulations than the federal government requires, provided they receive a waver from the EPA. In 2007, EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson refused California’s request for a waiver to regulate greenhouse gasses—the first ever refusal by the EPA in this capacity. In sworn testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee former EPA Deputy Associate Administrator, Jason K. Burnett, revealed that Johnson had denied the waiver, because of pressure from the White House. This decision appears to be consistent with the Bush administration’s policy of ignoring or suppressing data on important scientific issues such as the threat of global warming to public health. To allow States the independence to regulate greenhouse gasses would demonstrate that the science the Bush administration was attempting to suppress had significant merit.
The White House muzzles the Surgeon General (July 2007).
Dr. Richard Carmona, the U.S. Surgeon General (2002-2006), reported to a House of Representatives committee that Bush administration political appointees had repeatedly censored his speeches and prevented him from releasing reports on controversial issues, including stem cell research, abstinence-only sex education, secondhand smoke, and mental health.
White House officials censor a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report on possible health consequences of climate change (October 2007).
Officials at the White House Office of Management and Budget censored over half of CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding’s October 2007 report before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Redacted from the report were passages from her testimony that included specific references to the health consequences of global warming in the United States. Also redacted, was a CDC acknowledgement of global warming as “a serious public health concern.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conceals toxic risks (November 2007).
Internal documents show that FEMA adopted a policy of willful ignorance regarding potentially dangerous levels of Formaldehyde in the trailers it provided for displaced survivors of Hurricane Katrina. FEMA, in concert with other agencies, used a testing procedure that did not reflect the actual use conditions of the trailers and was therefore incapable of determining whether formaldehyde exposure levels truly posed a danger to trailer residents. Furthermore, they provided trailer residents with a bare minimum of information about potential dangers. House Committee on Oversight and Government member, Virginia Rep. Tom Davis summarized the FEMA documents as follows: "Recently discovered documents make it appear FEMA's primary concerns were legal liability and public relations, not human health and safety.”
The White House suppresses an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report on the dangers of greenhouse gasses (December 2007).
In the 2007 case Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency , the Supreme Court rejected the White House’s position that the EPA did not have the authority to regulate greenhouse gasses under the Clean Air Act, and further ruled that if the EPA determined that greenhouse gasses posed a danger to public health or welfare then it must regulate them. On December 5, 2007 the EPA emailed their draft response to the Court’s mandate to the White House. In it they found that greenhouse gasses did pose a danger to public health and welfare. Instead of addressing the EPA’s findings, the White House refused to accept the report, pressuring officials at the EPA to rescind it or at least eliminate large sections. These tactics delayed the release of any actual EPA findings to such an extent that no definitive EPA response to the Supreme Court’s instruction was never released during the Bush Administration.
Subsequently, the Obama Administration has adopted an entirely different approach to global warming issues. On April 17, 2009, the EPA released definitive findings that Carbon Dioxide and 5 other gasses associated with global warming pose significant threats to public health and welfare.
The EPA silences expert under pressure from chemical industry lobbyists (February 2008).
Award winning toxicologist, Dr. Deborah Rice, was dismissed from her position as the chair of an EPA assembled peer review panel charged with evaluating the safety of the fire retardant, Deca. The EPA argued its decision to dismiss Rice was justified because she had spoken out about the potential health risks of Deca in the past. This, according to the EPA, was " a potential conflict of interest.” However, the EPA routinely employs scientists with significant ties to industry on such peer review panels.
The Closure of EPA libraries (March 2008).
As reported in “Political Science: a Report on Science and Censorship,” in order to adjust to drastic funding cuts proposed by the White House, the EPA closed several of its 26 regional research libraries which, for many independent and EPA researchers alike, are the only source for crucial data on toxic threats to the environment, like superfund sites. A March 13, 2008 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reiterated that the closures were both harmful for EPA’s mission and for the public, who, as a result, have questionable access to important scientific information.
In response to public concern and the findings of the GAO, the closed EPA libraries were finally re-opened in September of 2008. There are, however, lingering questions including whether the newly re-opened libraries actually contain the same breadth of information and resources as they did prior to the closures.