Posted by: reefrescue | July 12, 2010

Politics corrupt environmental permitting process

From south Florida beach nourishment projects, water quality standards and Everglades restoration, special interests corrupt the environmental permitting process.

A culture of politics trumping science, many say, persists despite the president’s promises. The use of potentially toxic dispersants to fight the gulf oil spill is cited as just one example.

LOS ANGELES TIMES

Scientists expected Obama administration to be friendlier

By Tom Hamburger and Kim Geiger, Tribune Washington Bureau

July 10, 2010 | 9:42 p.m.

Reporting from Washington —

When he ran for president, Barack Obama attacked the George W. Bush administration for putting political concerns ahead of science on such issues as climate change and public health. And during his first weeks in the White House, President Obama ordered his advisors to develop rules to “guarantee scientific integrity throughout the executive branch.”

Many government scientists hailed the president’s pronouncement. But a year and a half later, no such rules have been issued. Now scientists charge that the Obama administration is not doing enough to reverse a culture that they contend allowed officials to interfere with their work and limit their ability to speak out.

“We are getting complaints from government scientists now at the same rate we were during the Bush administration,” said Jeffrey Ruch, an activist lawyer who heads an organization representing scientific whistle-blowers.

…interviews with several scientists — most of whom requested anonymity because they feared retaliation in their jobs — as well as reviews of e-mails provided by Ruch and others show a wide range of complaints during the Obama presidency:

In Florida, water-quality experts reported government interference with efforts to assess damage to the Everglades stemming from development projects.

In the Pacific Northwest, federal scientists said they were pressured to minimize the effects they had documented of dams on struggling salmon populations.

In several Western states, biologists reported being pushed to ignore the effects of overgrazing on federal land.

In Alaska, some oil and gas exploration decisions given preliminary approval under Bush moved forward under Obama, critics said, despite previously presented evidence of environmental harm.

Read entire article: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-science-obama-20100711,0,1700639,full.story

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