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Suspected of Smothering Warnings

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 1 month ago

The "powers that be" continue to try to suppress scientific findings when it contradicts their narrow view of the world. Here is a good example:




Ross Mayhew


Cheney wanted cuts in climate testimony


By H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer Tue Jul 8, 9:53 AM ET


WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney's office pushed for major

deletions in congressional testimony on the public health consequences

of climate change, fearing the presentation by a leading health

official might make it harder to avoid regulating greenhouse gases, a

former EPA officials maintains.


When six pages were cut from testimony on climate change and public

health by the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

last October, the White House insisted the changes were made because

of reservations raised by White House advisers about the accuracy of

the science.


But Jason K. Burnett, until last month the senior adviser on climate

change to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen

Johnson, says that Cheney's office was deeply involved in getting

nearly half of the CDC's original draft testimony removed.


"The Council on Environmental Quality and the office of the vice

president were seeking deletions to the CDC testimony (concerning) ...

any discussions of the human health consequences of climate change,"

Burnett has told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.


The three-page letter, a response to an inquiry by Sen. Barbara Boxer,

D-Calif., the panel's chairwoman, was obtained Tuesday by The

Associated Press. Boxer planned a news conference later in the day.


Burnett, 31, a lifelong Democrat who resigned his post last month as

associate deputy EPA administrator because of disagreements over the

agency's response to climate change, describes deep political concerns

at the White House, including in Cheney's office, about linking

climate change directly to public health or damage to the environment.


Scientists believe manmade pollution is warming the earth and if the

process is not reversed it will cause significant climate changes that

pose broad public health problems from increases in disease to more

injuries from severe weather.


Senate and House committees have been trying for months to get e-mail

exchanges and other documents to determine the extent of political

influence on government scientists, but have been rebuffed.


The letter by Burnett for the first time suggests that Cheney's office

was deeply involved in downplaying the impacts of climate change as

related to public health and welfare, Senate investigators believe.


Cheney's office also objected last January over congressional

testimony by Administrator Johnson that "greenhouse gas emissions harm

the environment."


An official in Cheney's office "called to tell me that his office

wanted the language changed" with references to climate change harming

the environment deleted, Burnett said. Nevertheless, the phrase was

left in Johnson's testimony.


Cheney's office and the White House Council on Environmental Quality

worried that if key health officials provided detailed testimony about

global warming's consequences on public health or the environment, it

could make it more difficult to avoid regulating carbon dioxide and

other greenhouse gases, Burnett believes.


The EPA currently is examining whether carbon dioxide, a leading

greenhouse gas, poses a danger to public health and welfare. The

Supreme Court has said if it does, it must be regulated under the

Clean Air Act.


Nowhere were these White House concerns more apparent than when CDC

Director Julie Gerberding, the head of the government's premier public

health watchdog, testified about climate change and public health

before Boxer's committee last October. The White House deleted six of

the original 14 pages of Gerberding's testimony, including a list of

likely public health impacts of global warming.


The White House, at the urging of Cheney's office, "requested that I

work with CDC to remove from the testimony any discussion of the human

health consequences of climate change," wrote Burnett.


"CEQ contacted me to argue that I could best keep options open for the

(EPA) administrator (on regulating carbon dioxide) if I would convince

CDC to delete particular sections of their testimony," Burnett said in

the letter to Boxer.


But he said he refused to press CDC on the deletions because he

believed the CDC's draft testimony was "fundamentally accurate."


Burnett, in a telephone interview, said he opposed making the

extensive deletions because "it was the right thing to do." He

declined to elaborate about White House involvement beyond his July 6

letter to Boxer.


As a Democrat, Burnett, seems to have been an odd choice as a senior

policy adviser and key liaison with the White House in Bush

administration's EPA.


Over the last eight years, he has contributed nearly $125,000 to

various Democratic politicians, starting with Al Gore's 2000

presidential campaign, according to the Center for Responsive

Government. He supports Democrat Barack Obama for president.


Burnett caught the attention of Bush administration insiders as a

researcher at the Center for Regulatory Study, a joint effort by the

American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution, where he

co-authored a number of reports on regulation including one

criticizing a ban on using cell phones while driving and another

criticizing the EPA regulation of arsenic as too expensive with

limited benefits.



posted to ClimateConcern

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