The Junk Science of George W. Bush: Robert F. Kennedy

Robert Kennedy is laying some serious charges at the door of the Bush administration over in the Nation. Read it all, some of the issues he raises have been discusses on this weblog over the last week. Among the charges:

The Bush Administration’s first instinct when it comes to science has been to suppress, discredit or alter facts it doesn’t like. Probably the best-known case is global warming. Over the past two years the Administration has done this to a dozen major government studies on global warming, as well as to a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its own efforts to stall action to control industrial emissions. The list also includes major long-term studies by the federal government’s National Research Council and National Academy of Sciences, and by scientific teams at the EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA, and a 2002 collaborative report by scientists at all three of those agencies.

The Administration has taken special pains to shield Vice President Dick Cheney’s old company, Halliburton, which is part of an industry that has contributed $58 million to Republicans since 2000. Halliburton is the leading practitioner of a process used in extracting oil and gas known as hydraulic fracturing, in which benzene is injected into underground formations. EPA scientists studying the process in 2002 found that it could contaminate ground-water supplies in excess of federal drinking water standards. A week after reporting their findings to Congressional staff members, however, they revised the data to indicate that benzene levels would not exceed government standards. In a letter to Representative Henry Waxman, EPA officials said the change was made based on “industry feedback.”

As a favor to utility and coal industries, America’s largest mercury dischargers, the EPA sat for nine months on a report exposing the catastrophic impact on children’s health of mercury, finally releasing it in February 2003. Among the findings of the report: The bloodstream of one in twelve US women is saturated with enough mercury to cause neurological damage, permanent IQ loss and a grim inventory of other diseases in their unborn children.