Scientists Self Censoring
As you are well aware, our federal environmental laws are meaningless if they are not enforced. From the Endangered Species Act to Superfund, to the Clean Water Act and the Wilderness Act, we rely on federal employees to make sure America's environmental laws have teeth. Unfortunately, some early actions in the Bush Administration have had a chilling effect on federal employees--one that may be specifically planned to make agency professionals afraid to make professional judgements or practice sound science without fear.
Last month, USGS cartographer Ian Thomas was fired for creating a map showing caribou migration patterns within the politically-hot Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. By firing Ian Thomas, the Department of the Interior sent a very clear message to its employees that "incorrect" scientific findings and professional judgements can be hazardous to your career.
Since Ian's termination, PEER has received a number of phone calls from federal scientists afraid to publish research data that the new administration may consider controversial. Even worse, many scientists are not waiting for a direct order to halt or suppress their research--many are becoming self-censoring in order to protect their jobs. If this is not stopped, we will see even less sound science and less environmental enforcement coming from federal agencies in the years ahead.
Please help end the climate of fear in the Interior Department! If you represent an organization, please sign your group on to this letter to Secretary Norton urging her to institute an agency-wide non-retaliation policy against biologists and other professionals who simply want to do their job without fear of retaliation.
Click here to see the letter:
The deadline to sign on is Monday, May 21, 2001
If you would like to act as an individual, please use this sample letter http://www.peer.org/norton_letter.html as a model to write your own letter to the Secretary today! Or write your own letter and send it to:
Secretary Gale Norton Via E-mail:
United States Department of Interior
1849 C. Street N.W. Washington, DC 20240
Thank you for your time and attention. Please contact me if you have any
National Field Director
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility