Tuesday, October 31, 2006

EPA shuts down five public libraries full of environmental data

Now anybody who has ever done any research knows that the best information comes from the actual event or happening. So an actual diary, a real photograph, or an certified signature is what we want to see. This is true for the attorney, the historian, the collector, and anybody who doesn't want to be shortchanged. Yet the EPA is boxing documents that verify the truth. Even if everything is copied and digitalised, we have no access to these things that can prove or disprove what is going on with the environment. I believe that the environment on planet earth, for all life from the quartz crystal to the human bean, should be our foremost concern in these days. There are a whole lot folks trying to cut down trees that can't even see the forest, and a whole lot of folks spraying herbacide on their weeds, not knowing that they are killing an herb that is waiting to be discovered.

Brownout at the EPA

"This is a way to keep EPA from being an effective organization," says a former librarian with the agency. "Take away their research ability. Cripple them." Adds Dwight Welch, a union official who represents EPA employees, "The closures seem like part of a general trend of hostility towards science by this administration. They don't want to hear the facts on everything from global warming to raising drinking water standards."


Jeff Ruch, PEER's executive director, summarizes what EPA staffers have told him. "It's almost like the EPA is having a fire sale. They're not doing this with any kind of foresight and planning. They don't have any money for digitizing, and even if they did have the money they don't have the staff to catalog these materials. Literally hundreds of thousands of things are being boxed up without being cataloged. There's no deadline, no budget and no staff."

Moreover, even as the agency touts an increased online presence, it has canceled subscriptions to online data sources such as Greenwire, an environmental news service that received 125,000 hits from EPA staff last year. When asked to confirm the Greenwire cancellation, spokeswoman Ackerman initially said, "It would be almost hilarious for us not to have Greenwire ... There may be days when we'd rather not read what they say, but I can't imagine we'd cut that." She later confirmed the cancellation of the service.

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