The EPA has begun closing its nationwide network of scientific libraries, effectively preventing EPA scientists and the public from accessing vast amounts of data and information on issues from toxicology to pollution. Several libraries have already been dismantled, with their contents either destroyed or shipped to repositories where they are uncataloged and inaccessible.
In February 2006 under the guise of cutting costs, the Bush Administration proposed cutting $2 million out of the $2.5 million library services budget for fiscal year 2007. Such a drastic cut would ensure the closing of most of the library network, but would hardly register as a cost savings against the $8 billion EPA budget.
Despite the fact that Congress has not yet passed the 2007 budget or approved these funding cuts, the EPA has already moved with astonishing speed to close down several of its libraries to both the public and EPA staff. Three regional libraries, the Headquarters Library and a specialized library for research on the effects and properties of chemicals have already been closed, and four additional regional libraries have been subjected to reduced hours and limited access. Some books, reports and other resources formerly housed at these libraries have been sent to three repositories where they remain uncatalogued and inaccessible to the scientists and others who depend upon them. Other materials have already been recycled or thrown away.
The closure of these libraries and the warehousing of their resources represents an additional barrier to the free flow of scientific information. The EPA will not have the best information readily available when it makes regulatory decisions, negatively impacting the agency's ability to carry out its mission of protecting human health and the environment.
The Underground Testing Consortia
1 day ago