April 04, 2007

Cuts At EPA, But Library Closures Halted

I've been returning on and off to the story of the Bush administration's unwarranted closure of EPA libraries containing numerous unique references in the environmental studies arena. Bush's EPA chiefs even closed libraries that hadn't had their funding officially cut yet; boxing up the documents and firing longtime reference librarians, while selling off the shelving and office supplies at fire sale prices to make it rather more challenging to simply decide to re-open them at a later date.

Apparently, they've cut that out, but the EPA is now defunding its internal investigation office, once again acting on Bush's proposed budget numbers before waiting for the final congressional budget bill. Emphasis mine:

Without waiting for congressional approval of its budget for Fiscal Year 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is moving this month to downsize its Office of Inspector General, IG, according to agency memos released today by a national association of government employees.

... Under the continuing resolution passed by Congress last month to fund the EPA and most other non-defense agencies through Fiscal Year 2007, which began this past October, the EPA-IG received a $900,000 increase.

But in his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2008, President George W. Bush would cut the IG budget by $5.1 million - the equivalent of a 10 percent budget reduction.

EPA managers implementing these proposed cuts now. The cutbacks are being carried out by Acting IG Bill Roderick under orders from EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson.

... The reductions include early retirements though buy-outs of senior auditor, criminal investigator, chemist and administrative positions.

... In the face of congressional protests, during the past few weeks, the EPA has set aside plans to cut its network of scientific laboratories and put further closures of its technical libraries on hold.

Could it be more obvious that the Bush administration simply hates any measure taken to reduce environmental damage or hold polluters accountable? Could it be more obvious that they're actively inimical to public health? I think not.

Update: A little update happy today. Sue me. Just noted that the good folks in Congress have urged the EPA management to hold off:

... But the members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee argued there is no immediate need for the office to start cutting staff. Lawmakers might not end up backing the proposed budget cuts during the appropriations process, they noted.

... "We are concerned that if Congress does not approve the requested OIG budget cuts, your buyout initiative could cause unnecessary loss of experienced personnel, workforce disruption and waste of taxpayer dollars," members of the committee wrote in the March 22 letter. "We urge you not to proceed in this manner." ...

For one thing, when has the Bush administration ever cared about wasting taxpayer dollars? For another, it could almost seem like the loss of experienced personnel was part of the plan. After all, when you have a functioning Office of Inspector General, things like this can happen:

... "First, corruption in Iraq has been -- and is -- a problem of great enormity within Iraq's government," Stuart Bowen told the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Commissioner of Public Integrity, the Iraqi equivalent of the FBI, has reported to Bowen that it is investigating 2,000 cases involving Iraqi officials and $8 billion in missing funds.

Bowen's office has 79 ongoing investigations and has referred 28 cases to the Justice Department for prosecution. Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., questioned the Justice Department's pace of bringing prosecutions. "I'm worried that these are taking a long time," Leahy said.

... Bowen endorsed legislation introduced by Judiciary ranking member Arlen Specter, R-Pa., to make war profiteering a federal crime covering not just the United States but overseas as well. ...

Blasted inspectors, it's always something with them. First you can't poison people with industrial waste, then you can't steal money from the government. Next thing you know, it'll be illegal for U.S. security contractors to engage in sex slave trafficking, and then where will we be?

Posted by natasha at April 4, 2007 05:30 PM | Environment | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

Goodling is opining Conyers and Leahy are McCarthy

Posted by: ccokz at April 5, 2007 05:43 AM