Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Fine-tuning the truth, Republican style

The LA Times yesterday reported on another instance of the Bush Administration's belief that whatever they say three times is true.

According to the story by Julie Cart, "The Bush administration altered critical portions of a scientific analysis of the environmental impact of cattle grazing on public lands before announcing Thursday that it would relax regulations limiting grazing on those lands, according to scientists involved in the study."

The document written by the scientists said that the proposed relaxing of grazing rules would have a "significant adverse impact" on wildlife. The final document, as edited by Republican apparatchiks, expunged the previous wording and replaced it with the claim that the new regulations would be "beneficial to animals."

The following fairly straightforward conclusion was, equally straightforwardly, removed from the final draft. "The Proposed Action will have a slow, long-term adverse impact on wildlife and biological diversity in general."

Eric Campbell, a now-retired BLM biologist who wrote part of the report, put it this way. "They took all of our science and reversed it 180 degrees."

Another scientist involved in the report, Bill Brookes, a BLM hydrologist, now retired, said the proposed rule change was "an abrogation of [the agency's] responsibility under the Clean Water Act." This statement was removed.

"Everything I wrote was totally rewritten and watered down," Brookes said, "...Instead of saying, in the long term, this will create problems, it now says, in the long term, grazing is the best thing since sliced bread."

The LA Times did not explore any possible significance in the fact that the scientists who are pointing out that a BLM scientific report was thus doctored, are now no longer with the BLM.

Bud Cribley, the agency's manager for rangeland resources, spoke of the altering of the original science as "fine tuning."

Two percent of American beef cattle graze on public land. Apparently the ranchers who graze those cattle have more political clout than scientific truth does.

This seems to be kind of a pattern with this administration. If they don't like reality, they just change the wording, and, hey, the reality looks a lot better now. And certainly more pleasing to campaign contributors.


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