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Environmental Protection, in Name Only

A proposal to create a senior scientist position at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is winning support from Congress. In June, a National Academy of Sciences panel recommended creating the position to bolster EPA's use of science, and at a House subcommittee hearing this summer, U.S. Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) announced that he was preparing legislation to create the deputy-level (agency head) science position. "Scientists need more clout," he said. But EPA needs more than Ehlers' r

Henry Miller



A proposal to create a senior scientist position at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is winning support from Congress. In June, a National Academy of Sciences panel recommended creating the position to bolster EPA's use of science, and at a House subcommittee hearing this summer, U.S. Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) announced that he was preparing legislation to create the deputy-level (agency head) science position. "Scientists need more clout," he said.

But EPA needs more than Ehlers' remedies, which are like trying to stop a charging rhino with a pea shooter. In fact, a similar strategem failed miserably earlier in the tenure of EPA chief Carol Browner. What has never been addressed is the fundamental problem that adherence to scientific principles in the formulation of policy has long been alien to EPA's "corporate culture."

An expert panel commissioned by then-EPA administrator William Reilly reported in 1992 that:

* "The science advice...

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