Jun. 28, 2005

"It's Criminal" Bush Administration Manipulates Science

Bush Administration Manipulates Science in Grazing Report

The Bush Administration manipulated scientific data in a government study on the environmental impact of cattle grazing prior to announcing that it would loosen regulations limiting grazing on public lands, according to two scientists who contributed to the study.

"They rewrote everything. It's a crime," said Erick Campbell, a former biologist with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), who wrote the sections of the report that address the effects of the new rules on wildlife. "This is a whitewash— they took all of our science and reversed it 180 degrees." [1] Campbell made his remarks last week in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Bill Brookes, a retired BLM hydrologist who worked on the study also complained of Administration meddling. "Everything I wrote was totally rewritten and watered down," Brookes told the Times. [2]

The new rules will allow ranchers to graze their cattle on public lands for a longer period of time --up to five years-- before they are required to reduce the size of their herds. The new rules will also limit public participation in decisions on grazing issues.

According to BLM Director Kathleen Clarke, the new rules "will produce long-term rangeland health benefits," including increased vegetation on stream banks, which will reduce soil erosion and provide more wildlife habitat. [3]

But the original report conducted by the BLM's own scientists reached the opposite conclusion. According to the original report, "The proposed action will have a slow, long-term adverse impact on wildlife and biological diversity in general." This entire section was ultimately eliminated and, incredibly, BLM now says the new grazing regulations are in fact "beneficial to animals." [4]

But according to Tom Lustig, senior counsel for the National Wildlife Federation, "Almost nothing in these rules benefits the public lands or the millions of Americans who use them for purposes other than raising cattle." [5]

Environmental experts note the new regulations will have widespread and lasting impacts. According to Bobby McEnaney, a grazing expert with the Natural Resources Defense Council, "Grazing regulations affect 160 million acres of public land in the Western United States --far more than any other industry-- so any change to grazing laws will have a dramatic impact on the country's public lands."

McEnaney condemned the Administration's distortion of science and public participation. "The science was completely rewritten in order to cater to ranching interests."

[1]Federal cattle grazing analysis called white wash," Los Angeles Times, Jun. 18, 2005. [2] Ibid. [3] "Bush Eases Land Use for Ranchers," Christian Science Monitor, Jun. 22, 2005. [4] Ibid. [5] "New federal grazing rules will rip up public lands," National Wildlife Federation, Jun. 16, 2005.

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