Throughout the 20th century, the U.S. government has responded to financial scandals, air and water pollution, unsafe pharmaceutical drugs, unsanitary meat, dangerous automobiles, hazardous work places and other threats by building a regulatory framework to protect citizens and our natural heritage. This intricate process of balancing economic interests with the public interest depends on citizen input, democratic accountability and, most of all, openness.
But the Bush administration has worked assiduously to monkeywrench the regulatory process through a variety of means - including the appointment of industry lobbyists and executives to key government positions and the implementation of new barriers to rulemaking, such as specious cost-benefit analyses.
One of the biggest obstacles to effective regulation and mitigation of hazards, however, is the White House’s obsession with secrecy. This takes the form of distortion of information needed to effectively deal with threats to health and safety; the outright censorship of scientific data generated by regulatory agencies; and the suppression of facts that don’t fit the administration’s political and ideological agenda.
For example, the White House deleted a lengthy section of a June 2003 Environmental Protection Agency report on the state of the environment because it described the risks of global warming and cited industries that are emitting greenhouse gases. Adding insult to injury, the White House played down its agency scientists’ assessment of global warming and added a reference from an oil industry think tank that questioned the EPA’s conclusions on climate change. Read more.
Public Citizen is committed to preserving and strengthening the protective safeguards under attack by the Bush administration and its corporate allies. Public Citizen acts as a watchdog, overseeing congressional and executive branch actions affecting the regulatory process, alerting the public and Congress when safeguards are threatened, and encouraging Congress to enact legislation that puts public health, safety and the environment first. For more on Public Citizen’s regulatory work, click here.