Survey Reveals Interesting Side of EPA

By | May 14, 2008
I recently read a story on that highlighted a survey I wanted to share with our readers. Although it may not directly involve biodiesel, I think it's an issue that may have or could affect the renewable fuels industry indirectly in some way. To be honest, I'm not sure.

The survey was titled "Interference at the EPA: Science and Politics at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency." Conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, it concluded that 889 of 1,600 EPA scientists (60 percent) experienced at least one incident of political interference during the past five years. Apparently, political appointees have edited scientific documents, manipulated scientific assessments and maybe altered the science behind EPA regulations. Furthermore, 409 EPA veterans (43 percent) who had worked at the agency for more than 10 years said interference occurred more often in the past five years than in the previous five-year period. (For a copy of the report, visit

I wasn't familiar with the Union of Concerned Scientists at the time, but the organization's Web site told me it's the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. It originated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1969, and now includes 200,000 citizens and scientists. That's a pretty impressive group looking out for the best interests of the EPA. That's good because I hate to hear of something negative going on at the EPA. The EPA employees who are working on our nation's renewable fuels standard have a tough job, and they should be commended for the many tasks they have completed and challenges they have faced. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to get the many different groups together to create policy that will regulate and enforce our country's renewable fuel consumption. The more I thought about this, the more I wondered if EPA employees even have a choice when political forces seek to sway EPA policy. Indeed, the Union of Concerned Scientists called for reforms to protect EPA scientists, make agency decision-making more transparent and reduce politicization of the regulatory process.

I'll admit it was the conspiracy theorist inside me who was most interested in this survey. It brings to my mind questions that frankly I can't answer, and as a reporter, that bothers me. What EPA renewable fuels policy may have been influenced by political agendas? Was it done to our industry's benefit or detriment? If there's anyone out there who has an opinion on this, please feel free to share it with me.

The union also pointed out that political interference isn't unique to the EPA. I guess it's one of those behind-the-scenes things that the average U.S. citizen isn't aware of. Part of me says that's OK, but another part of me will always wonder what's going on behind the curtain.

Jessica Sobolik
Managing Editor
[email protected]
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