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Scientist Removed From EPA Panel Due To Industry Opposition

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the let-the-market-decide dept.

Earth 105

Beeftopia writes "The relationship between regulator and regulated is once again called into question as industry pressure leads to a scientist's removal from an EPA regulatory panel. From the article: 'In 2007, when Deborah Rice was appointed chair of an Environmental Protection Agency panel assessing the safety levels of flame retardants, she arrived as a respected Maine toxicologist with no ties to industry. Yet the EPA removed Rice from the panel after an intense push by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), an industry lobbying group that accused her of bias. Her supposed conflict of interest? She had publicly raised questions about the safety of a flame retardant under EPA review.'"

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105 comments

Well, YEAH! (5, Funny)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year ago | (#42887141)

You can't have a SCIENTIST on a panel about pollution! It interfere's with Gawd's Will!

note (5, Funny)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year ago | (#42887163)

* That's Neil Gawd, CEO of Toxic Shit Enterprises, of course.

bio (-1)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year ago | (#42887205)

Toxic Shit Enterprises was founded in order to research the possibility of creating a line of humans that would actually fit into airline seats, by virtue of having arms and legs on only one side. Although attempts have been moderately successful, unfortunately there's been a problem trying to get the new strains to breed true. Consequently, some 2nd generation offspring only fit into the new Indian subcompacts.

Re:bio (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42887415)

Asshole, stop trying to jam posts in at the top of the page by replying to yourself.

Re:bio (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42888065)

His are still better than your shit post.

Re:bio (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42891341)

humans that would actually fit into airline seats

If you're not a fat-ass then airline seats aren't that bad.

Re:bio (1)

zugmeister (1050414) | about a year ago | (#42891701)

I can only assume you're not over 6' tall. If you were you would know better than to say that.

Re:bio (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year ago | (#42891831)

The seats have gotten smaller. I flew back in 1993 and 1997 and the seats were comfortable, roomy, and quite enjoyable. I recently flew again in 2012 and you are 100% correct. About the only difference in my body other then age is 20lbs and a long beard dropping to just below my ribs.

While the flights were the same routes, I'm not sure if they were the same airlines. But things have changed a lot on planes..

Re:Well, YEAH! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42887191)

That makes no sense. How can you say it interferes with God's will if he made the world itself? That would be counterproductive. Obviously, there real reson is money... and money is very important. Some times, it's more important than the environment

Re:Well, YEAH! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42888001)

I'm glad I don't live near you. Go ahead, fuck up your own environment so you kids have no chance of breeding. Evolution in action.

The environment is ALWAYS more important than money.

Re:Well, YEAH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42891867)

My good sir, I do believe you have been whooshed.

All horribly biased! (5, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#42887413)

Every single one of those scientists is not only biased, but has a substantial conflict of interest. All of them are carbon-based lifeforms that will react negatively to a wide range of chemicals such as mercury, arsenic and practically every petrochemical in existence. The EPA should clear the entire regulatory panel and re-staff it with robots who will only take their charge from a power source that will not be disclosed to them. Ideally their finishes should also be solvent-resistant and UV-stable and their cooling system capacity should be generous.

Re:All horribly biased! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42887707)

but then they'll just answer "bite my shiny metal ass"

Re:Well, YEAH! (2)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about a year ago | (#42894153)

UK Govt did this with Dr David Nutt.

Govt: Dr Nutt, go do research into how dangerous drugs are and report back. We need more strings to the War on Drugs bow.
Dr Nutt: Drugs aren't as bad as you people make out. These stats clearly show some interesting things, E.g. You are more likely to die riding a horse than from an E overdose, and there have been no deaths directly attributed to overdose on cannabis in the entire documented history of mankind.
Govt: Oh! Oh, wow... This is embarassing. You're fired.

(Obviously satirical, but cite [blogspot.co.uk] and cite [answers.com] . Not original sources, but I'm sure you educated types can follow the paper trail.)

Re:Well, YEAH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42894403)

There's a big difference between firing someone who disagrees with your policies and firing someone who disagrees with your corporate overlords'.

Re:Well, YEAH! (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about a year ago | (#42894559)

No there isn't. Ultimately, it's upper management disagreeing with facts and selling their own version of reality to the public. The only difference is when we pay for it; Prior to the fact via taxes, or after the fact with purchases.

Good (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42887171)

Stop putting anti-industry, anti-energy zealots on EPA panels.

Re:Good (3, Funny)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#42887401)

What next? They're going to appoint someone telling us that cigarette smoke causes cancer? What a loon!

Re:Good (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#42887603)

And specially those anti-bribe zealots, how you think the country will advance with that scum everywhere?

Huh? (4, Interesting)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year ago | (#42887195)

Rice's travails through the EPA's Integrated Risk Information System, or IRIS, program reveal the flip side of industry's sway. Not only does the ACC back many scientists named to IRIS panels, it also has the power to help remove ones it doesn't favor.

So... what's the pre-flip good side of the industry's sway?

Can't they just say -- industry has full control and can both nominate people they like and cut out people they do not like.

Re:Huh? (1)

grcumb (781340) | about a year ago | (#42891699)

So... what's the pre-flip good side of the industry's sway?

It's win/win: Heads I win; tails you lose.

You weren't looking for a downside, were you?

Summary is Misleading (5, Interesting)

AdamStarks (2634757) | about a year ago | (#42887271)

The summary makes it seem like this just happened, but she was actually removed back in 2007. Why is this coming up now, 6 years later?

Re:Summary is Misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42887381)

The summary makes it seem like this just happened, but she was actually removed back in 2007.

Yeah, you have to read all the way to the second sentence to figure that out!

Why is this coming up now, 6 years later?

Because at the time it was probably business as usual but now it's frowned upon?

Re:Summary is Misleading (5, Insightful)

AdamStarks (2634757) | about a year ago | (#42887519)

You have to get to the 4th paragraph of the actual article before it's explicitly stated that all this happened 6 years ago. The summary is vague enough that one could easily be led to think she was appointed in 2007 and only recently removed. It should have been more specific.

And my question was actually a question, not a snarky jab. I'm legitimately curious why this is being brought up now. Is there currently a wave of exposure for the shady maneuvers of Environmental lobbyists? Or is it just a slow enough news day that someone has to reach back 6 years to find something controversial?

Re:Summary is Misleading (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#42888553)

is it just a slow enough news day that someone has to reach back 6 years to find something controversial?

Careful reading of the story shows no obvious reason this is being trotted out now. Perhaps there is another push to oust someone
else going on behind the scenes that we are not aware of.

But the story does hint at a less controversial reason for the removal, in that as a federal official, she was in charge of
essentially propping up her own work, previously done at the state level.

I think one of the comments on TFA said it best: [slashdot.org]

Also conflicts of interest are not necessarily simply personal. There are also institutional conflicts of interest.

" In Maine, Rice's research had supported a state ban on the chemical."

Now Rice Chairs a similar review at a federal level. For federal researchers, voting on any research protocol regarding a chemical when also having been in a principal investigator position regarding the same protocol regarding that chemical (or supervising those voting on the protocol/supervising the principal investigators on) is an ethics violation.

In short, there is valid reasons for this action to have been taken. Imagine, if you will, that a chemical was being voted for APPROVAL, instead of being banned. Imagine further that a researcher who did all the studies about safety on this chemical sat on and chaired the approval committee. Would we want that to be allowed? Wouldn't people be screaming about that pretty loudly?

The American Chemical Council has no particular dog in this fight. Flame retardant is simply one of thousands of chemicals covered by this organization which has members in hundreds of different companies [americanchemistry.com] . I doubt flame retardant is even a blip on their radar. Yet the story makes it out as if this organization exists solely to make sure this flame retardant is not banned.

In actuality, "The EPA itself had raised concerns -- ones so significant that in late 2009 the agency and several chemical companies agreed to phase out its production." Presumably these several chemical companies were already members of the American Chemistry Council.

One could also take the position that a strictly ethical researcher would not have accepted an appointment to a panel investigating the very work that he/she pioneered. And, at the very least, would not have accepted the CHAIR of such a panel. Its sort of like doing your own peer reviews.

In short, I think your assessment of digging for controversy where none exists is spot on.

Re:Summary is Misleading (2)

Uberbah (647458) | about a year ago | (#42891285)

Wait. You typed this:

In short, there is valid reasons for this action to have been taken. Imagine, if you will, that a chemical was being voted for APPROVAL, instead of being banned. Imagine further that a researcher who did all the studies about safety on this chemical sat on and chaired the approval committee. Would we want that to be allowed? Wouldn't people be screaming about that pretty loudly?

And this:

The American Chemical Council has no particular dog in this fight. Flame retardant is simply one of thousands of chemicals covered by this organization which has members in hundreds of different companies.

In the same breath? With a straight face?

Re:Summary is Misleading (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#42891437)

Yup.
Nothing wrong with either of those.

The Chemical council was not the petitioner in this case.
They merely called attention to the fact that a principal researcher was chairing an evaluation of her own work.
They were insisting that the same rules they were required to live by be followed in all cases.
No conspiracy here. Except the one in your mind.

Re:Summary is Misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42887431)

Because no-one gave a toss at the time, when they should have been angry?

Re:Summary is Misleading (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#42888565)

They should have been angry that she accepted the position in the first place. That was unethical.

Re:Summary is Misleading (4, Informative)

mcelrath (8027) | about a year ago | (#42887777)

Because a study of those chemicals was recently completed [nih.gov] , and guess what? She was right and they're really harmful to humans. California is now overhauling their rules [ewg.org] on use of the stuff...

Re:Summary is Misleading (4, Funny)

Sentrion (964745) | about a year ago | (#42887953)

Actually, those chemicals are only harmful to delicate Californians. Here in Texas we have oil running through our veins, along with lead, mercury, arsenic, and many other colorful elements, so we've adapted to be tough enough to take on most of the cancer causing pollutants industry can throw at us. Sure, natural selection is still working through its slow process so we expect many bizarre birth defects and mutations, but we're convinced we will be much fitter after all is said and done.

Re:Summary is Misleading (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42888631)

Actually, those chemicals are only harmful to delicate Californians and those tree hugging liberals in Austin. Here in Texas we have oil running through our veins, along with lead, mercury, arsenic, and many other colorful elements, so we've been blessed by the almighty to be tough enough to take on most of the cancer causing pollutants industry can throw at us. Sure, intelligent design is still working through its slow process so we expect many bizarre birth defects and mutations, but we're convinced we will be much fitter after all is said and done.

There, as an Austinite, I fixed that for you.

Re:Summary is Misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42889885)

Actually, those chemicals are only harmful to delicate Californians. Here in Texas we have oil running through our veins,

My next holiday: Go to Texas, introduce the locals to matches and leave before Texas becomes a soot stain.

Re:Summary is Misleading (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about a year ago | (#42890033)

Actually, those chemicals are only harmful to delicate Californians. Here in Texas we have oil running through our veins, along with lead, mercury, arsenic, and many other colorful elements, so we've adapted to be tough enough to take on most of the cancer causing pollutants industry can throw at us. Sure, natural selection is still working through its slow process so we expect many bizarre birth defects and mutations, but we're convinced we will be much fitter after all is said and done.

I think you're confusing Texas and Texans with Helghan and the Helghast.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killzone [wikipedia.org]

Strat

Re:Summary is Misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42891635)

Perfect! Well said

Re:Summary is Misleading (2)

Livius (318358) | about a year ago | (#42888123)

So, she was fired for bias but now it turns out that her alleged bias was based on reality.

Clearly she had the wrong kind of bias.

Re:Summary is Misleading (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42888707)

Being right does not absolve you of pre existing bias. The point of the panel was to look at all the evidence and then come to a conclusion based on the facts. You don't want someone heading the panel that has already decided before they start.

Re:Summary is Misleading (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about a year ago | (#42890913)

A good scientist often has a good idea of where the results are leading long before they have publishable science. That doesn't mean they have an unwarranted bias, just intuitional knowledge of the field.

Re:Summary is Misleading (1)

AdamStarks (2634757) | about a year ago | (#42888201)

That's interesting, and the article should have included that information. "Scientist Removed From EPA Panel Due To Industry Opposition is Vindicated 6 Years Later" would be a perfectly relevant story.

Unfortunately, the closest thing I can find in the article is "Two years later, the EPA moved to cease production of decaBDE, a chemical it views as a possible carcinogen. In Maine, Rice's research had supported a state ban on the chemical.", which I guess means this article would have been relevant in 2009.

Re:Summary is Misleading (1, Interesting)

Tailhook (98486) | about a year ago | (#42888671)

and guess what?

The process worked despite her removal. It wasn't actually necessary for her to abrogate the pretense of impartiality expected of a scientist working on behalf of the public. It isn't actually necessary for public institutions to be populated with rabid activists for the public to be protected.

It is better that the government protect its credibility by spacing abusive and reckless fools like her. Unfortunately that's not what happened. She still works for the US government. She just got pulled from an EPA panel.

Re:Summary is Misleading (2, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#42889609)

It isn't actually necessary for public institutions to be populated with rabid activists for the public to be protected.

The US seems to suffer this problem more than other western nations, it's full of rabid pro-industry "activists".

The process worked despite her removal.

And came to the same conclusion. Being pro-reality does not equate to being anti-industry.

reckless fools like her

Her research was impartial and correct, there is not a shred of evidence that she is a "rabid activist". She did what a public servant is supposed to do, she "spoke truth to power", unfortunately the system is such that she was basically talking to herself. That's not her fault, that's the fault of the system that offers the job. Have they fixed that, or did they just give the position to the next person who came through the "revolving door"?

She still works for the US government.

Good, that institution is in dire need of a reality check. If you want to rid the EPA of corruption, then you should start by sacking this guy [wikipedia.org]

Re:Summary is Misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42890165)

And came to the same conclusion.

And thankfully, because EPA was eventually persuaded to reluctantly follow its own rules and remove her the conclusions have credibility. There is a reason people in these positions MUST NOT abuse their position and hijack the process. It wrecks the credibility of the process.

Her research was impartial and correct

Maybe. You miss the point. She did the research. The fact that she did the research is the reason she did not belong on the panel. The fact that she was selected to chair the panel is malfeasance within EPA. That she accepted the offer is unethical. Peer review isn't meaningful when the peers answer to the author.

I've no doubt you would rather your opponents meekly cower while your champions, immune to challenge, deliver blows of righteous environmental, health and safety justice upon them. That's how the statists have trained you. Between now and when you figure out that you'll need an arms industry to fulfill your dreams, there are public processes. Those processes can't be compromised by scientific incest and remain credible.

Re:Summary is Misleading (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42888085)

Because we need something new to distract people from Pres. Obama's lackluster performance.

Remember who was president in 2007? It's all his fault.

Re:Summary is Misleading (2)

AdamWill (604569) | about a year ago | (#42888381)

Footer reads:

"Toxic Influence is an ongoing series of reports exploring the nexus between industry, science and policy. This story is being produced in partnership with the Center for Public Integrity."

Basically, they're digging through recent history to find questionable stuff that wasn't really highlighted at the time.

American Chemistry Council accused her... (2)

VinylRecords (1292374) | about a year ago | (#42887283)

American Chemistry Council (ACC), an industry lobbying group that accused her of bias. A what? An industry lobbying group? Oh thank the heavens someone without any bias was there to moderate proceedings and ensure that objective and measured assessments were being made.

Lobbying is great. It means if you have tons of money you have influence. As long as your corporate or social structure brings in piles of cash you can have dominant political power. I wonder how different the political landscape would look if you removed lobbying and campaign contributions and campaign war chests from play.

Re:American Chemistry Council accused her... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42889093)

It is a fundamental tenant of science that the data drives the conclusion independent of the scientist. Gravity isn't just true for Newton, its true for everyone. Provided she was replaced with a scientist and not a puppet there is no harm done.

Politics gets excited when a supporter is replaced because politics is subjective.
Science is objective, ideally all scientists will come to the same conclusion from the same data.

Real science isn't hurt by swapping out one scientist for another.
In fact its a NECESSITY for it to be science.

Without it its just a faith based system of beliefs which may be true but its not science.

Re:American Chemistry Council accused her... (1)

cusco (717999) | about a year ago | (#42891465)

Provided she was replaced with a scientist

That was the Bush Madministration, what do you think the chances of that actually happening?

Public Comments (4, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | about a year ago | (#42887285)

Seems to me that the government oversight of anyl product should be a confidential process.

Do peer reviewers of scientific papers come out and call something great or bad during the review process?

Do auditors come out and give off the cuff remarks about what they are seeing during the audit?

So if there are rules that say she she should keep her trap shut during the review process then she should be removed since it shows a proclivity to substitute her opinion for that of the review panel.

If not, then there should be. The review process is a process and if it is to be legitimate, then you have to follow the process. Otherwise, why have it all?

Re:Public Comments (4, Insightful)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | about a year ago | (#42887439)

If it's a scientific review panel, you're supposed to review the evidence presented, not (ab)use your position on the panel to publicly promote your own opinion. We all have preconceived notions on most subjects, but in science you're supposed to be able to set those aside and fairly review new evidence. If you can't do that, you're in the wrong place for peer review.

Re:Public Comments (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#42888611)

Exactly.

Had the panel been assigned to APPROVE a chemical, and the panel was chaired by the principal investigator who performed all the safety testing for the manufacturer, wouldn't that be considered totally unethical? Wouldn't everybody be screaming about that?

She should not have accepted the position on the panel, much less the chairperson. She should have only been called as a witness.

You should't get to peer review your own work.

Re:Public Comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42887719)

Like any American she has the absolute right to speak freely. If the EPA disagrees with her opinion they also are entitled to speak out. The simple fact that even one scientist, with credentials appropriate to the discussion, has a negative opinion is a very good reason for the EPA to investigate as deeply as humanly possible or wait until such a time that a quality answer is available through research before allowing a chemical to be sold or used. Usually industry is dead wrong. Tobacco and asbestos leap to mind. Both were sworn to be safe by very large companies.

Re:Public Comments (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42888359)

Like any American she has the absolute right to speak freely.

She hasn't been denied her right to speak freely. She has been denied the ability to abuse her position as a supposedly impartial member of an EPA panel. You can be required to keep your trap shut as a condition of some arrangment. You can even be thrown in prison if you violate a court order by running your mouth.

One of the anti-business, anti-industry, anti-energy zealots on this EPA panel failed to conceal her bias and got called on it, as she should have been. End of story

The rest of the noise is the usual hysteria from the anti-business, anti-industry, anti-energy peanut gallery.

Re:Public Comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42888609)

Nothing the government does should be confidential, it should be transparent and open to review by the public.

Re:Public Comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42890193)

Re: "...anyl product..."

I wish to hear more about this confidential "anyl product". Please, do go on!

Re:Public Comments (1)

neonv (803374) | about a year ago | (#42890363)

In addition, she published a review a few years earlier claiming that the flame retardant should be banned. She had a strong opinion before being appointed to the committee, thus she was biased, and so should have never been appointed. In this case the industry was right. She didn't have an open mind coming in.

Re:Public Comments (2)

riverat1 (1048260) | about a year ago | (#42891127)

Was she biased or just more knowledgeable and ahead of everyone else on the subject? Subsequent research has borne out her statements.

Re:Public Comments (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about a year ago | (#42891697)

Do peer reviewers of scientific papers come out and call something great or bad during the review process?

She never did. Her study had been commissioned and published by the State of Maine two years prior to the time she was even appointed to the EPA.

Do auditors come out and give off the cuff remarks about what they are seeing during the audit?

She never made "off the cuff remarks" about that flame retardant. When asked about any public positions she had taken on chemicals during her appointment, she stated that she had none.

And to this day, she regards the scientific study she undertook for her employer two years prior not a public position, but just work that she undertook for her employer at the time.

clueless.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42887287)

How or why does this apply to ./?

Re:clueless.. (0)

evil_aaronm (671521) | about a year ago | (#42887373)

Once more: "News for nerds. Stuff that matters. " If this doesn't matter to you, then why read it?

Re:clueless.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42888127)

Right, the implication being that News for nerds is stuff that matters.. is this news for nerds?

Re:clueless.. (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | about a year ago | (#42887605)

How or why does this apply to ./

I have no idea. I've never even heard of Dotslash. I'm assuming it's a website similar to this one?

Sadly unsurprising (5, Informative)

Bysmuth (1362639) | about a year ago | (#42887297)

Last year, the Chicago Tribune ran an incredible series of investigative articles on the dangers of flame retardant chemicals and the extent to which industries profit from their manufacturing (http://media.apps.chicagotribune.com/flames/index.html). In light of their unfortunate conclusions, this report is hardly surprising.

Re:Sadly unsurprising (0)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about a year ago | (#42887655)

And thus we demonstrate the fallacy of assuming there is a problem with the "free market", when in fact we have an entire industry (flame retardant chemicals) created by government regulations (the FTC requires certain manufactured goods to meet certain standards of flame resistance), which then creates a new business opportunity for lobbyists to support the new industry that is now threatened by additional regulations from other federal agencies (EPA).

No wonder the citizens in the Capital are living the good life while citizens in the Districts are barely getting by.

Re:Sadly unsurprising (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42887883)

It's not proof either way though. Yes, there are problems with some of the flame retardant chemicals, but there is also a problem with little children being on FIRE!

So, no, I'm not saying that I have the numbers to prove that move children die of skin cancer caused by flame retardant chemicals than of burning to death. Simply that regulation was not the issue. There needs to be something done about burning children, and if our first attempt is sub-optimal, then the science has to lead us to the next one, until both cancer and fire risks are minimized.

The fact that the first step in a safer direction was only break even would not deter me from continuing to seek better solutions. Nor cause me to think that the "free market" would naturally fix this problem "in due time." As other's have pointed out, the free market took a bit too long to "fix" the problems with asbestos and tobacco.

Re:Sadly unsurprising (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about a year ago | (#42888367)

Oh, right, because faceless bureaucrats deciding what is best for your children is sooo much more effective than ensuring information is true and available and letting their parents decide. After all, when it's a bureaucrat's job, if they make a mistake they can change course quickly. Oh, wait, they can't. But at least they can admit they made a mistake and and end the program. Oh, yea, that never happens. Well, someone else will add a NEW regulation to fix that, and any problems it causes can be fixed with another NEW regulation, and if they discover any problems there some other agency can create a NEW regulation and .. gee, this process, that affects millions of people with no say-so, doesn't really seem like it works very well.

Re:Sadly unsurprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42889041)

Oh, right, because faceless bureaucrats deciding what is best for your children is sooo much more effective than ensuring information is true and available and letting their parents decide.

Sometimes yes [wikipedia.org] yes [bbc.co.uk] or even yes [smh.com.au] .

Re:Sadly unsurprising (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about a year ago | (#42890029)

Oh, right, because faceless bureaucrats deciding what is best for your children is sooo much more effective than ensuring information is true and available and letting their parents decide.

Sometimes yes [wikipedia.org] yes [bbc.co.uk] or even yes [smh.com.au] .

Figures. Typical statist response: "Here's some examples of isolated idiots making poor decisions, that of course justifies my use of tyranny to control and punish the entire populace."

No mention of what happens when idiots make poor decisions for millions of people. How do you justify that?

The EPA has always been headed by industry flacks. (4, Insightful)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about a year ago | (#42887309)

The EPA's function is more to give the common fool the idea that the government cares about the environment, than it is to defend the environment. It is quite similar to the FDA in this regard. Both agencies have been headed by flacks from the industries they are supposed to be regulating, which is a clear conflict of interest.

Just another classic case of corruption in the government.

Re:The EPA has always been headed by industry flac (4, Insightful)

steelfood (895457) | about a year ago | (#42888443)

I would just like to take this opportunity to remind die-hard libertarians that the solution is not to do away with these agencies that are supposed to provide oversight. It is to change the appointment rules and process so that the people who are appointed cannot have worked in the industry within a certain amount of time, and cannot have any conflict of interest with the industry (e.g. close relative is an industry exec).

Re:The EPA has always been headed by industry flac (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year ago | (#42889555)

There is a catch 22 in not hiring from industry. On one hand they may be influenced by industry. On the other hand they are the people who know most about the industry. Would you really want regulations being made by someone with no experience in the industry? That is a recipe for bad legislation.

If anything it should be the other way around. That someone who has worked in a regulatory area can not work for industry for a certain period of time.

Re:The EPA has always been headed by industry flac (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about a year ago | (#42890263)

It's not really a catch 22. People from the industry are in a revolving door system, where they go work in these agencies for a while and then get bonuses and better positions based upon how much work they did for the company while in government.

I could see hiring from industry, if you then banned subsequent participation or investment in that industry. Including spouses. As it stands now, hiring from industry ensures that nothing useful gets done, except those things useful for the industry itself. This applies to agriculture, big pharma, manufacturing, etc.

Re:The EPA has always been headed by industry flac (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year ago | (#42891311)

Not hiring from industry ensures that armatures make critical decisions.

So we both agree that the revolving door must stop. Coming out of industry should be easy; getting back in should be hard. Regulators need experience in how industry works so they can understand how to write solid regulations that industry can not get around.

Please be careful with using absolutes like "nothing". There are many regulations that get enacted that industry does not like. Some things do get done. Using absolutes that are easily disproved just weakens the argument.

Re:The EPA has always been headed by industry flac (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about a year ago | (#42894183)

I will use absolutes when necessary, and in this case there is nothing useful that revolving door industry flacks will accomplish in their tenures in government.

It would be better to use rank amateurs and observation of the sleaze tactics, along with abilities to enforce and odify regulations to keep up with side stepping, than it would be to put experienced industry flacks and shills in charge of these ever more laughable agencies. The current policies are fraudulent bordering upon treasonous.

Re:The EPA has always been headed by industry flac (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about a year ago | (#42890215)

I would like to take this opportunity to remind die-hard statists that almost all of these agencies end up serving the interests of those companies that they are supposed to be regulating, eventually. Proposing that the very people (congress) who are paid off by large agribusinesses make laws that hurt their employers is the height of statist delirium.

I mean, sure, it sounds good to have non-flacks heading these agencies, but it just can not be done without a very complete reform of the election process.

In any event, a vindication of the libertarian philosophy could be seen in organic labeling standards. USDA Organic has been diluted into complete worthlessness as a standard, but there are independent companies that still certify organic foods in a more reliable and honest manner. This model works, unlike the statist model where the government becomes teacher, mother, secret lover.

Let me play Devil's Advocate. (2, Insightful)

briancox2 (2417470) | about a year ago | (#42887325)

I don't think this is such a big issue. If someone who is a judge has publicly espoused opinions on a case by case level regarding the Constitutionality, they are likely going to be viewed as biased. The reason for this is very important: we want to be assured of government officials not coming into a job with bias. We want to them to decide ON the job, on a case by case basis while acting in the official capacity of the position, with the ALL the facts that someone in THAT position is privy to. If they come into a situation already espousing that they've decided the truth, it can come into a situation with a decision of what needs to happen, when they haven't considered the facts in each case.

Re:Let me play Devil's Advocate. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42887475)

Nice fantasy. Has there ever existed anyone with no bias? A regulator should always be skeptical of industry claims of safety, etc. What you want is some wishy-washy nonsense. Corporations have a long history of caring about the bottom line over safety and their impact on the environment. They should be held to extremely high standards.

Re:Let me play Devil's Advocate. (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#42887487)

On the other hand, if someone had just reviewed the constitutionality of bill in another context, that's not bias, that's actually being educated.

Re:Let me play Devil's Advocate. (0)

briancox2 (2417470) | about a year ago | (#42887585)

Let's take this case. Someone who believes that this product was harmful, may not be interested in whether it was safer in extreme industrial use to accept the risks in favor of avoiding the risks of a fire, in consideration of the safety of those working in an area. Industry also has means to mitigate risks that academia is often not aware of. Accepting the scientific ivory tower opinion, while not listening to the thought process of industry, is acceptable for professors and scientists. It's not acceptable for administrative government positions.

Re:Let me play Devil's Advocate. (2)

Vancorps (746090) | about a year ago | (#42888287)

While philosophically I feel you should be right, there is ample real life evidence to show that industry often doesn't have ways of dealing with the health risks associated with harsh chemicals. Take IBM for example, fabricating chips is an extremely toxic substance and extremely fragile, dust in the wrong place at the wrong time can destroy a whole production run. So IBM built bunny suits to protect the chips from human hair and dust but neglected protecting the humans from the harsh chemicals and what you got was a class action lawsuit down the road and a lot of health problems.

Theoretically this is why you would have the EPA and OSHA to be your guardians. An average person does not have access to all the information they need to decide on whether their job is safe, federal standards at least try to force companies up to a minimum level.

There are lots of recent examples of the industry failing to protect anything but the bottom line, look at almost every oil spill to date, look at almost every mine collapse, look at the harmful effects of fracking. It gets worse when you start talking about water departments not meeting federal guidelines on chlorine content and getting slapped with thousands of dollars in fines which is only seen as a cost of doing business because the cost of fixing the problem is a few orders of magnitude more expensive.

Re:Let me play Devil's Advocate. (3, Insightful)

Sentrion (964745) | about a year ago | (#42888927)

The only problem is that if industry has to choose between flame retardant A, which is safe, and flame retardant B, which costs half as much, they will choose option B, even if retardant B is known to leach into ground water and cause birth defects. If retardant B is made readily available, then a manager can safely presume that most of the other facilities in his area will likely also choose option B, and if retardant B is found in ground water and tied years later to birth defects, he can rely on a strategy of plausible deniability, in that any retardant used at his facility would not be enough to cause all of the environmental damage in the area, and that the culprit must be some other facility or maybe the combined effect of all the industries in the area using the same retardant.

The tragedy of the commons is why we have agencies like the EPA, because industry in the past has been left alone to be trusted to do the right thing but in too many cases they chose to do the wrong thing because doing the right thing cut into their profit margins. Agencies like the EPA set a higher standard than what the free market could afford on its own, but, by leveling the playing field, complying with the regulations becomes affordable since competitors can't (legally) undercut on price by skimping on environmental safety. It's a system that can work well if the agencies aren't packed with pro-industry insiders who know that they can land a good future executive position or consulting gig at a major company as long as they play along and let the companies do what they want.

"Supposed" does not mean definite. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42887695)

Just because she was removed does not mean they are trying to cover up anything or the ever popular theory of "That company runs the world and they dont want any challengers because they want their money!".

Im amazed at how fucking stupid americans are when it comes to this stuff. Everyone believes everything is a conspiracy theory, or some big powerful company controls everything. She was removed, it happens hundreds of times a day in this country from mcdonalds to the white house staff. People dont do their job, they get lazy, they steal shit from work, they cause undue tension and problems in the work place, they drink, they do drugs and so on but youll never see a company actually say that they fired a person for that kind of stuff because they dont want to be sued. But those are the cause of Id guess 98% of all removals from the work place each year, so the chances of one of those being hers is pretty damn high.

But people love to gossip too much and assume too much when they werent actually personally involved in it. They just (laughably) read about it on the internet.

we're doomed (1)

AndyKron (937105) | about a year ago | (#42887805)

I'd better buy a gun since we don't seem to have a function government at this time.

Re:we're doomed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42888813)

and by "at this time" you mean 2007?

It's shocking (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year ago | (#42887963)

Just look at how much government policy is about protecting corporate profits. More often than not the people writing the rules work for the companies the rules cover. Tell me how hiding health concerns benefits the public? We need more people like this scientist not fewer! For everyone they fire ten more will think twice about standing up to the corporations.

Same standard as a jury (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year ago | (#42889497)

I would hold a scientist on a review panel to the same standard as I would a jury. If the jury members made statements about the guilt or innocence of a defendant before the trial was over they wold be removed from the jury. The same thing applies to a review panel. The review is not over and the evidence is not complete yet someone is make statements about the safety of the chemicals under review. I have nothing to do with the chemical industry but I would want that scientist removed.

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