"Burn the Books. Who Needs Science?" says Bush to EPA

In Germany in 1933 they burned the books for having “unGerman ideas”. Here in America today the Bush Environmental Protection Agency is literally doing the same on behalf of its conservative corporate patrons supporting the Republican Party by closing the Environmental Protection Agency’s Libraries and destroying material.

The EPA, under Bush’s directive is quietly and rapidly closing the libraries in their national and regional offices without Congressional oversight or approval. The head of the EPA is appointed by Bush and does his bidding.

As the Kansas City Star reports, regional EPA libraries in Kansas City, Chicago, and Dallas have been closed. The National EPA library has closed along with a specialized library on chemicals. Other libraries like in Seattle are on reduced hours and are in imminent danger of being closed.

It is another action by the Bush Imperial Presidency that believes it can do whatever it wants. It is another example of the Bush Administration’s blatant hostility toward science and environmental concerns. They are carrying out the anti-environmental agenda of their corporate patrons with the fervor of Nazi Stormtroopers.
The American Library Association reports that:

the EPA is closing libraries and dispersing resources in accordance with an Administration budget directive that has neither been approved nor formally enacted by Congress. Implementation of the library reorganization is proceeding at a rapid pace. Reports of the library closures, information destruction, and property auctions continue to surface despite the objections to the plan raised by EPA professional staff, EPA employee union representatives and the American Library Association.

As one after another of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional libraries close, both public access and access by EPA scientists is lost, further hindering the implementation of public policy based on science rather than politics. As books and scientific studies are being boxed up and sent to storage, material is also being destroyed. It is Bush’s modern day equivalent to Hitler’s “Book Burning.”

Ironically this closing of the libraries of the EPA is not hypocritical on the part of the corporate friendly anti-science Bush/Cheney Administration. Most of their decisions have not been based on science anyway but on politics. Global warming is just one example.
Democrats in Congress have tried to stop the library closings but have been ignored by Bush. They have asked that all closing of libraries be stopped immediately. As noted in a November 30th letter to the EPA :

“Eighteen Senators sent a letter on November 3, 2006, to leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee asking them to direct EPA “to restore and maintain public access and onsite library collections and services at EPA’s headquarters, regional, laboratory and specialized program libraries while the Agency solicits and considers public input on its plan to drastically cut its library budget and services”(attached). Yet, despite the lack of Congressional approval and the concerns expressed over this plan, your Agency continues to move forward with dismantling the EPA libraries.

The National EPA Library closed on Oct 1, 2006. I know there really wasn’t any need for any of the Republican Congress or Bush’s cabinet or Presidential staff to really have an environmental library, particularly in Washington, D.C. They never used it. But the EPA library also had been open to the public and of course the EPA staff. But with things changing in Congress Bush doesn’t want any facts and science to get into the hands of any incoming Congressional Democrats who might read it and use it as they pass laws. So shut the damn thing down quick before anyone has a chance to stop what’s being done. No public input. No budget approval.

Beginning October 1, 2006, the EPA Headquarters Library, located in Room 3340 in the EPA West Building, located at 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC, will become one of three EPA repositories for paper copies of EPA documents, reports and publications. The other two repositories will be located at the EPA-RTP Library, 109 T.W. Alexander Drive, Durham, NC 27711, and at the Andrew W. Breidenbach Environmental Research Center, 26 W. Martin Luther King Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45268.”

Rather than the regional offices having access to scientific information in each of their offices the plan is to box it up and send it to a repository. And probably destroy any duplicates. It’s much easier to only have one copy or no copies of a negative pesticide report to hide than multiple reports in offices around the country. And when you close a library you no longer have a need for a librarian to run the library – that’s one less person who knows about the reports.

The Bush EPA PR people are saying that the material will be digitized and put on the computer. But wouldn’t you do that before you shut everything down? Where is the plan. It’s just like Iraq? No plan – shoot first. The Republican scheme of things is box it up, because once it’s boxed up, fewer people will have access to deciding what is to be digitized. Its called controlling and denying access to information. Like you can really expect that the reports critical of Bush’s position of doing nothing on global warming are going to put up on the Internet?

On Dec 13, 2006 ALA President Leslie Burger issued the following:

It is a gross oversimplification to state that everyone benefits when libraries go digital.

This is only true when there is a thoughtful digitization plan that ensures valuable information is not lost and public access is retained. We are still waiting for the EPA to disclose its digitization plan and budget,” Burger said.

All this is just one more reason to support a Democrat for President in 2008. Bush represents the Republican philosophy of supporting corporations over public health and the environment. He supports controlling access to information over open public libraries that foster a free exchange of information. He doesn’t support science or the use of science in making public policy.

Do you hear any Republicans running for President protesting the closing of the EPA libraries? I don’t. Things just get worse and worse under Bush, despite the Nov elections because he is not going to listen or act in the behalf of the public interest. Shutting down the EPA libraries has nothing to do with saving money. It has all to do with the continued assault by corporate America on science and putting economic interests of the corporations above public health and the environment.

I urge you to contact your members of Congress and demand the EPA libraries be kept open. Congress needs to hear from us that this assault on science, libraries and the environment is not acceptable. If we don’t speak up who will?

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