Call for Greater Oversight of Governmental Science Policy
December 8, 2004
Home-brew letter to Senators Dayton and Coleman and Representative McCollum bemoaning the executive branch's handling of science-related policy and suggesting greater Congressional oversight for protection of consumer and environmental rights. If you too are concerned with federal scientific policy making, then please feel free to copy the letter below (and modify as desired) and send to your senators and representative.
I am writing to urge you to protect consumer and environmental rights, as they have been mandated by Congress, by enforcing greater oversight over Federal agencies that systematically dismiss sound scientific data in favor of industry-preferential results.
From the FDA to the EPA, the Interior service, and other agencies, unqualified bureaucrats have been systematically overruling sound scientific conclusions to the benefit of corporate interests. The latest situation, reported by the New York Times on 12/05/2004, pits policymaker Julie MacDonald (Fish and Wildlife service) against federal biologists in establishing the need for protection of the sage grouse. While regulatory agencies are well served by robust internal dialogue, the use of ungrounded criticism of objective science is hurting citizens and consumers and undermining Congressional mandates.
The recent Vioxx situation has brought much-needed attention to the failings of a Federal agency (the FDA) in its capacity of regulating industry for the protection of the people. Consistent reports have shown that federal agencies have relied too heavily on the industries they are charged with regulating and have twisted science from relying on fact-based observation and experimentation to wild speculation and unsubstantiated opinion. Widely overlooked reports in the nation's leading media have documented these transgressions. Perhaps the most comprehensive, the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum spring edition clearly documents numerous occasions where industry-related politics have trumped rigid scientific assessment of policy options. Of additional concern are the "litmus tests" being applied to potential scientific advisors, an unprecedented move which seems to require that their personal politics be in line with the administration's.
The United States is not being well served by political appointees overseeing scientific endeavors, a situation that seems rectifiable only through Congressional oversight. Please help spur Federal agencies to restore their reliance on objective science without industry- and/or politically-related moderation and censure of data.
Stephen A. Fuqua
Interior Official and Federal Biologists Clash on Danger to Bird (NY Times)
Natural Resources Policy in the Bush (II) Adminsitration: An Outsider's Somewhat Jaundiced Assessment (Duke Env. Law and Policy Forum)
Policy-makers Should Enhance Selection Process For Presidential S&T Appointments (National Academy of Science)