Executive Order 13422

Executive Order 13422 goes into effect today. This EO mandates that science-based federal agency regulations must be reviewed by political appointees prior to approval. This allows the President to override conclusions derived from federal scientists, to push his political agenda.

From the EO (noting that OIRA is a political appointee):

Each agency shall submit to OIRA a program… under which the agency will periodically review its existing significant regulations to determine whether any such regulations should be modified or eliminated so as to make the agency’s regulatory program more effective in achieving the regulatory objectives, less burdensome, or in greater alignment with the President’s priorities and the principles…

This formalizes a tool that Bush has been using, despite a loud scientific and media outcry, since the start of his presidency, as denoted in this AP article:

Michael Halpern, a member of the influential Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group, said scientists believe the Bush administration is the “worst” ever in terms of political interference and censure.

Where else has he or his appointees stifled scientific publication or regulation?

  • In 2006, Dr. James Hansen, NASA’s top climate expert, accused the administration via the New York Times of pressuring him to censure his global warming research. Fallout: George Deutsch, a Texas A&M dropout appointed by Bush as NASA’s PR director, resigned, presumably for claiming he had a journalism degree. Among other pressure, Deutsch had enforced a revision to scientific copy on NASA’s website to include the word “theory” after every occurrence of “Big Bang”.
  • In early July, Dr. Richard Carmona, Surgeon General from 2002 to 2006, told a House committee of the rampant censure he endured during his tenure. “Anything that doesn’t fit into the political appointees’ ideological, theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized or simply buried.” He was prevented from speaking publicly about embryonic stem cells, contraceptives, and his misgivings about the administration’s “abstinence only” policy during his years as Surgeon General.

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