Global warming. Stem cells. Evolution. These are high profile scientific topics that are extremely politicized. They get a fair amount of press regularly. One or the other of them is pretty much always in the news in some way. It’s almost like they take turns, or rotate.
But as I and others have pointed out, a lot of the science games in the Bush administration are occurring much more below the radar. George Washington’s David Michaels flags one that has gotten almost zero press:
…the White House is making a run around Congress to change the way the agencies conduct risk assessments, the studies that form the basis for health protections. The Office of Management and Budget has proposed mandatory “guidelines” that would require agencies to conduct impossibly comprehensive risk assessments before issuing scientific or technical documents, including the rules polluters have to follow.
What appears at first blush to be good government reform is in fact a backdoor attempt to undermine existing environmental laws. If this is successful, the uncertainty manufactured by polluters will be written into federal risk assessments, providing the justification to weaken public health protection.
In chapters 6 and 8 of The Republican War on Science, I discussed the Gingrich era “regulatory reform” agenda, which sought to use science itself to create hurdles to stronger government regulatory action. The recent OMB initiative sounds strikingly like a similar “risk assessment” proposal that was folded into the Gingrich Congress’s failed regulatory reform bill–only, it’s now being implemented by OMB action rather than through legislation….and I bet you never even heard this was going on, did you?