Saturday, October 4, 2008

EPA Choked by ACC

Glorious fall day. Dots of changing colors here and there.

The poor EPA - under staffed, over worked, under funded, disrespected and very vulnerable.

The EPA, born out of the 1969-1970 concern for the environment and propelled by the book "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson, was formed by the Nixon Administration to address our exploding pollution issues. The unregulated industrial revolution and post war chemical tactics had finally caught up with us and our country was disgustingly polluted. The litter bug mentality needing reigning in.

Like many government agencies, they shovel against the wind but in particular it seems the EPA just can't keep up. With over 80,000 chemicals to keep track of and only 5,500 scientists employed, the ratio means there is so much to do with so little time and staff. The pace of added chemicals and industrial commitment has far exceeded the ability of the EPA to keep us safe.

Now throw in the additional reality of lobbying, bribes, and pressure by outsiders and you can see how things get really mucky. Back in April, a survey revealed that over 800 of the EPA scientists complained of political interference and pressure from superiors to skew their research findings, pressure that has been escalating the last 5 years. Hhhmm. The Bush culture has blatantly succumb to the all too powerful oil and chemical companies and has even fired leading researchers after the lobbyists jumped up and down about conflict of interest. (Talk about conflict of interest!)

So as scientists are able to catch up to our polluted state, create instruments for testing and provide good research, not only on animals but also on humans, (most relevant eh?) we still have news reports sabotaged by the ACC. Yesterday's report about maternal phthalate levels and genital alterations in baby boys is of grave concern. Or at least it should be. Until of course you get to the end of the article and there it is, the doubt meister called the ACC, the American Chemistry Council gets quoted once again to set every one's mind at ease, applauding the safety of phthalates and that a messed up penis is no big deal.

How does the ACC get to even be in an article anyway? Was it to "balance" the reporting? Talk about conflict of interest. Shame on those reporters. The ACC is a 119 million dollar/year lobbying trade association, protecting their chemical industry's interests, who gets to be quoted on a regular basis. The ACC is NOT a or the professional organization of chemists, the American Chemists Society holds that honor. And how often do you hear the ACS quoted? I never have. The ACC seems interested in only protecting their profits. The ACC also carries a big stick in Washington and has set up camp inside the EPA. And I am tired of it. The article was well written right up until the "balancing" part. That's like reporting on global warming and then quoting someone who blogs about junk science.

Does this really matter? YES. I can't tell you how many times people have the come back "the levels probably aren't high enough to do any real harm" to the concerns about certain chemicals and recent findings. Define "real" harm anyway. This attitude is a result of the ACC spinning the doubts and unfortunately it is working. We, our children and our future can not afford the ACC damage control tactics. If you have the activist bug in you, hold these reporters accountable for their reporting. Explain to them that quoting the ACC is like asking the fox which chicken looks good. With any luck, that reporter won't take that free dinner any more.

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