Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Lisa Jackson released stunning news at an impromptu press conference on Wednesday. According to Jackson, “the barrage of anti-science rhetoric, mixed with increased political pressure from conservatives has forced our scientists to re-examine their place both in the federal government and society at large. They are tired of ‘corporate stooge and religious zealot politicians constantly undermining real scientific research’. Ultimately they said ‘we quit!’ Without scientists, I am afraid the EPA can no longer function.”
The EPA announcement comes at the end of a tumultuous period in which the scientific community has been regularly attacked by religious conservatives and big business lobbyists. According to a 2009 survey of EPA scientists “60 percent of those responding, or 889 scientists, reported… political interference in their work over the last five years.” According to CBS News, “the highest number of complaints about political interference came from scientists who are directly involved in writing regulations and those who conduct risk assessments such as determining a chemical cancer risk for humans.”
Former EPA scientist and spokesperson, Dr. Charles Darren spoke at length about the decision:
“As scientists we have a duty to seek objective truth in the areas we study. Unfortunately, the political atmosphere in this country is such that we can no longer, in good conscience, continue the fight to protect our planet through the EPA. When politicians argue about scientifically proven subjects such as evolution or global warming, how can we possibly expect them to understand topics like carbon emissions? We are wasting too much time defending concepts that are already proven and not enough time focusing on creating a safer and cleaner world for our children. Thus, we have resigned from the Environmental Protection Agency and will continue our work through other organizations around the world.”
Not everyone is discouraged by Wednesday’s announcement. Shell Oil spokesman, Frederick P. Willingham III, spoke about the decision: “The EPA has been a regulatory leech that has consistently undermined American businesses. We at Shell Oil know the importance of a clean environment and now we can continue to run our environmentally-friendly business without the damaging rhetoric spewed by EPA scientists.”
Many Republicans agree that the EPA is an agency made up of “job-killers” that should be eliminated. Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich stated at a conference this past February. “I want to replace, not reform EPA, because EPA is made up of self-selected bureaucrats who are anti-American jobs, anti-American business, anti-state government, anti-local control, and I don’t think you can re-educate them.” Motivated by Gingrich, conservative politicians have begun opening “re-education centers” throughout the country attempting to persuade people who EPA warnings about fossil fuel and carbon emissions is just more “liberal hooey”. Interestingly, according to OpenSecrets.org 92.8% of the political donations made by the oil and gas industry this year, were made to the same Republicans who oppose the EPA.
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