The Cranky Copy Editor — Small government toxicity

If that sounds to you like a process that cynically trades in doubt, you’re not the only one. As Clarren reports, Lynn Goldman, an EPA administrator under Bill Clinton, testified much to that effect before the Senate:

"The new process is an open invitation for interested parties to meddle with IRIS [a database of scientific studies] in secret. … Their involvement in the IRIS interagency process gives the appearance — if not the reality — of providing a back door through which industry groups can exert pressure to modify EPA's conclusions or to subject the process to endless delays."

And it’s not just former government officials who are critical of the shift to analyses driven by the almighty dollar. One staff scientist for the EPA had this to say:

They're [the Office of Management and Budget] trying to take our assessments and change the science so that a chemical looks much less risky."

While the Government Accountability Office offered a terse critique:

It concluded that the secretive procedures compromise scientific credibility and sacrifice the public's trust in government. Despite such hefty criticism, public officials fear that because the new procedures have been instituted at the EPA so far below the public radar, their harmful impact will survive long after Bush leaves office.

Clarren writes that she did not get a return call or e-mail from Barack Obama’s transition team on whether it would reverse that damage done by the Bush administration. But it’s clear the onus is on them to do so.

What’s the value of a single human life? Under the Bush administration, writes Rebecca Clarren, about a million dollars less than it used to be worth.

Call it the dark side of “small government” that conservatives champion, an anti-regulatory stance designed to save dollars at the expense of lives.

Clarren, writing for, details how little-known governmental offices led by Bush appointees have undermined the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect our nation’s citizens by giving non-health industries and agencies input on which chemicals are assessed and the ability to comment on scientific findings (comments that, oh by the way, are not for public view).

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