There is a theme that's developed over the course of the past year and a half since President Obama got elected. He often has the right ideas and great intentions, but the implementation of those ideas only goes so far. In short, many people have been disappointed after having high expectations. IMHO, too high (I've posted about that many a time). Let me add this: The realization of his goals isn't solely under his control. Congress plays a huge part in this, too.
For now, let's focus on science, and scientists are a very disappointed bunch, according to this L.A. Times article:
Now scientists charge that the Obama administration is not doing enough to reverse a culture that they contend allowed officials to interfere with their work and limit their ability to speak out.
A stifled scientist is not a happy scientist. Nor an effective one.
Uh-oh! I feel a bad word coming on. The worst word ever, in fact. The dreaded B word...
"We are getting complaints from government scientists now at the same rate we were during the Bush administration," said Jeffrey Ruch, an activist lawyer who heads an organization representing scientific whistle-blowers.
Okay, prove it, science types. Don't just complain, be scientific about all that whistle-blowing:
In Florida, water-quality experts reported government interference with efforts to assess damage to the Everglades stemming from development projects.
In the Pacific Northwest, federal scientists said they were pressured to minimize the effects they had documented of dams on struggling salmon populations.
In several Western states, biologists reported being pushed to ignore the effects of overgrazing on federal land.
In Alaska, some oil and gas exploration decisions given preliminary approval under Bush moved forward under Obama, critics said, despite previously presented evidence of environmental harm.
Here is the example that really hits home in light of the BP disaster, as you'll see later in this post. This is the one thing that sends unending shivers of fear and waves of anger through my nerve-wracked little body:
The most immediate case of politics allegedly trumping science, some government and outside environmental experts said, was the decision to fight the gulf oil spill with huge quantities of potentially toxic chemical dispersants despite advice to examine the dangers more thoroughly.
Again, I've posted about this subject over and over again. You can find all my posts about the utter stupidity of using dispersants here.
To be fair, and as I said earlier, the Obama administration does come through for us, albeit incrementally:
While overall respect for science may have improved under Obama, several scientists said in interviews that they were still subject to interference.
Which brings us back to that dispersant problem, and it is a huge problem. I cannot stress that enough. In fact, my pal Hugh Kaufman (aka AltaKocker on Twitter) sends me article after article every day, making that very point. And who is this Hugh Kaufman I speak of? He's a senior policy analyst at the EPA’s office of solid waste and emergency response.
Speak of the devil:
Ruch's organization, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, also said it had been contacted by an EPA toxicologist who said a request for review of the toxicity of oil dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico was rebuffed.
EPA analyst Hugh B. Kaufman, a 39-year veteran, said he had heard similar complaints from colleagues. Kaufman believes that his agency "gave the green light to using dispersants without doing the necessary studies."
Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, who has proposed legislation to prohibit dispersant use until further scientific studies are completed, said the EPA "has been entirely irresponsible" in its review of dispersants.
He's right, you know. The EPA has maintained that using dispersants is acceptable, even helpful. Wrong.
Which brings me to this (h/t: Hugh Kaufman):
Shrimpers who were exposed to a mixture of oil and Corexit dispersant in the Gulf of Mexico suffered severe symptoms such as muscle spasms, heart palpitations, headaches that last for weeks and bleeding from the rectum, according to a marine toxicologist who issued the warning Friday on a cable news network. [...]
The EPA lists Corexit 9500 as "useful on oil spills in salt water" and prescribes an application of "2 to 10 U.S. gallons per acre". They further said in a media advisory that Corexit 9500 will "biodegrade."
The EPA's description is only slightly less enthusiastic than a list of Corexit talking points featured on Nalco's Web site...
Please go read the rest of that piece. My jaw dropped, as it did after viewing this: