Groups Slam Proposed Interior Science Integrity Policy

September 8, 2010

Several open-government advocacy groups are strongly criticizing the Interior Department's recently proposed "scientific integrity" policy — saying it seems designed to perpetuate some of the worst science abuses of the Bush administration.

Bush administration political appointees were often accused of suppressing, distorting, and ignoring science at Interior and other environmental agencies when the actual data did not support their preferred ideological or policy conclusions. President Obama ordered agencies to come up with new science integrity policies — but so far the White House itself is past deadline for delivering a government-wide policy.

Interior, meanwhile, proposed an update of its own policy. But advocacy groups like Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Union of Concerned Scientists say what DOI proposed in the Federal Register is a rehash of the Bush policy. They say it practically accuses the line-level scientists of cheating, and ignores the fact that GOP political appointees were twisting the sound findings coming from the scientists themselves. They say it sets few if any rules for the political appointees who censor and edit the scientists' work to make it conform to their policy agenda.

The comment period on the Interior proposal is open until September 20, 2010.