The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has begun shutting down its national library network by closing regional research libraries in Chicago, Dallas, and Kansas City and reducing access to collections in New York, Boston, Seattle, and San Francisco. While those actions had been expected, the EPA has also shuttered its chemical pollution and toxic substances resource library in Washington, DC, a move that caught observers off guard. The decision to close the libraries is budget-driven. The EPA plans to cut $2 million from the library system's $2.5 million budget for Fiscal 2007. The agency's total budget request is $7.3 billion for the fiscal year beginning October 1. Scientists and research advocates say the library closings are short-sighted because they will jeopardize the EPA's ability to properly assess environmental issues. "Science-based decision making is central to the mission of the EPA, and access to world-class libraries is essential for that," said Craig...

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