Issue Date: June 23, 2008
Debating Editorial Expression
I feel sure that C&EN will receive letters of complaint regarding Rudy Baum’s editorial “Bush and the Environment” (C&EN, May 26, page 3). I write to support his stance. It is entirely appropriate for the editor of a magazine devoted to the chemical sciences to speak out when science itself is compromised in favor of political and economic interests. In its article on the Environmental Protection Agency’s court losses (May 26, page 34), C&EN makes it clear that EPA has been directed by political appointees to take actions that fly in the face of evidence based on staff work and other scientific sources. It is one thing to make arguments in terms of cost-benefit analyses, it is another to distort or ignore entirely the scientific evidence that indicates the wisdom of enacting regulatory constraints.
Chris Mooney’s book, “The Republican War on Science,” details a multitude of politically motivated interferences with the work of government scientists and Administration support for ideologically driven scientific claims that failed to measure up as good science. Unfortunately, his book did not seem to slow things down very much. The Bush Administration will leave behind a sorry record of having failed the American people with respect to environmental policy and regulation.
Regardless of who sits in the White House or which party controls Congress, we as scientists have an obligation to foster the authority of science to inform society on how the world is with respect to issues such as environment and health. We are also morally obliged to support scientists who offer their best science-based advice and to speak out against suppression of their views.
We should demand of our representatives in Congress that they make clear their support for unfettered scientific input within government agencies and in testimony before congressional committees. We can act as individuals, but we can and should also do it through our professional societies.
Theodore L. Brown
Please stop using C&EN’s editorial page as a soapbox to protest President George W. Bush’s actions. I believe that the bias you consistently show against the Bush Administration is unnecessary in a professional journal. You are entitled to your version of the “truth” about the Bush Administration’s approach to the environment. Do you really think the Bush Administration’s power over courts is such that courts always bend to the Administration’s interpretation of EPA regulations?
“Hundreds of [EPA] scientists have personally experienced political interference ...” Please do not insult us with statements like this. As to relaxing air requirements near national parks so that power plants can be built, are you personally willing to get off the grid so that our looming energy crisis (editorialize on that for a change) can be solved?
Before you worry so much about EPA requirements being lax, please concern yourself with the pollution coming to our country from China, India, and other nations that are exempt from all environmental regulation under the Kyoto protocol (another great topic for an editorial).
If we desire criticism of the Bush Administration, we can turn to any news outlet. C&EN is of value insofar as scientific topics are addressed.
Enough already of allowing Baum to have his own personal soapbox from which to attack President Bush and his policies. ACS can hide behind the statement found at& the end of each of Baum’s editorials— “Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.”—for only so long. At some point, after reading enough of Baum’s leftist political ramblings, one must wonder whether these indeed are the adopted views of ACS.
I am an ACS member because of its involvement with, and representation of, chemists across the nation as well as around the world. However, I have no intention of being represented by an organization that adopts political views so deviant from my own.
Gary W. Breton
Baum’s editorial once again underscores his liberally biased reporting on the debate of science. He stated that many industry executives feel that he goes “overboard on issues of endangered species protection and climate stability.” I agree with them. Baum doesn’t seem to understand that cap-and-trade economics will result in large back-door tax hikes, leading to the loss of jobs in the U.S. Many of these jobs will be shipped overseas to countries that aren’t nearly as concerned with the theories of global warming.
Environmental activists such as Baum are ensuring that the U.S. loses its competitive edge because he believes that the U.S. must immediately go green while removing itself from foreign oil dependency. This simultaneous policy, endorsed primarily by politically liberal thinkers such as Baum, has led to sharp increases in food and gas prices.
A more reasonable approach to solving the energy crisis in the U.S. is to allow immediate drilling in areas such as the oil-shale formation in Colorado, the Bakken formation in Montana and North Dakota, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and off the coast of Florida, as well as allowing us to go after our massive coal reserves. This would undoubtedly lead to a drop in energy prices and would go a long way in removing us from foreign oil dependency. While tapping into our energy sources, the U.S. should continue to research and develop the technology to shift to a green economy. The shift must be gradual, so that both industry and the people it currently employs remain profitable and satisfied.
On numerous occasions Baum has turned his editorial into a distorted political piece. He is quick to lay the blame on the Bush Administration for issues such as the energy crisis and human embryonic stem cell research, yet he seems reluctant to fault his own party. Democrats recently killed a bill to allow drilling for oil shale, thus keeping our dependency on foreign oil at its current levels.
Former president William J. Clinton signed the Dickey Amendment into law, preventing the appropriation of funds for research on human embryos. President George W. Bush was the first President to allow federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research. Baum is certainly entitled to his opinion, but if he wants to integrate politics with science, he should do so in an objective manner.
Jesse J. Sabatini
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