EPA Insider: Agency a “Private Industry Licensing Program”

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“Unions representing thousands of staff scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency say the agency is bending to political pressure and ignoring sound science in allowing a group of toxic chemicals to be used in agricultural pesticides,” reports the Times. The story is based on a “newly disclosed letter” from the unions that was “given to the The New York Times on Tuesday by environmental advocacy organizations.”

Minor point: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility posted a press release on the selfsame letter, which was sent May 24, more than two months ago. But we all know that things don’t really exist until they are “given to the Times,” and quibbles aside, the story is awfully good. The chemicals in question, carbamates and organophosphates, (as we reported six years ago) are known, to the EPA and everyone else, to be bad news. So why, you ask, are they still legal?

“It’s how the game is played,” said an E.P.A. specialist involved in the pesticide program who spoke on the condition of anonymity because, he said, critics within the agency often lose choice assignments.

“You go to a meeting, and word comes down that this is an important chemical, this is one we’ve got to save,” he said. “It’s all informal, of course. But it suggests that industry interests are governing the decisions of E.P.A. management. The pesticide program functions as a governmental cover for what is effectively a private industry licensing program.”

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