More science fiction from the White House

Scientists disagree with your policies? Just delete their views.

Published June 20, 2005 3:24PM (EDT)

Up is down. Black is white. And left is right. Yes, it's time for the latest installment of the Bush administration's scientific follies.

Last week, the Bureau of Land Management made it easier to graze cattle on public land, despite objections from its own scientists. Grazing cattle can denude the West's arid lands, a special concern given the recent drought in the region. Two BLM scientists -- a biologist and a hydrologist, both of whom recently retired from the bureau -- predicted that easing limits on cattle grazing would hurt wildlife and water quality. But their objections were edited out of a BLM report. Who needs to trouble with dissent when you can just delete it?

"This is a whitewash. They took all of our science and reversed it 180 degrees," Erick Campbell, a former BLM state biologist in Nevada told the Los Angeles Times. "They rewrote everything," Campbell said. "It's a crime."

Campbell retired recently after 30 years at the agency. Here's more on how he was thanked for his years of service: "The original draft of the environmental analysis warned that the new rules would have a 'significant adverse impact' on wildlife, but that phrase was removed. The bureau now concludes that the grazing regulations are 'beneficial to animals,'" the Times reported.

"Eliminated from the final draft was another conclusion that read: 'The Proposed Action will have a slow, long-term adverse impact on wildlife and biological diversity in general.' Also removed was language saying how a number of the rule changes could adversely affect endangered species."

So, it's not just the risks of global warming that have been clicked away with a few fanciful flips at the keyboard. It's pretty much any creature -- man or beast -- that dares stands in the administration's way.

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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