OMB Watch comments on a part of the new 2009 budget. In my opinion, any cuts in research in this area is cause for alarm. If anything, someone has to take the lead. We are just beginning to be able to measure impacts as sophistication in genetic reseach increases. And current toxic levels and measurements have already been demonstrated to be nonsense for unborns and children.
Yesterday, President Bush unveiled his FY 2009 budget proposal. There is plenty to be upset about in the proposal (as OMB Watch’s Budget Blog has noted here.) Cuts in federal funding of environmental protection programs are among the most troubling.
Bush is proposing serious cuts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — $330 million, or 4.4 percent. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s☼ Environment and Public Works Committee has prepared a list of EPA programs and research activities that will be cut if Bush gets his way. (See the list here.)
Of note, Bush is proposing cuts to EPA’s endocrine disruptor research and prevention programs. Boxer’s committee says the proposal, “Cuts $3.6 million (35%) from efforts to help protect people from endocrine disruptors, dangerous chemicals that can harm human health at very low levels by interfering with the body’s hormone systems.”
EPA’s endocrine disruptor program is already woefully behind schedule. In 1996, Congress passed legislation mandating EPA assess the health impacts of endocrine disruptors. In the summer of 2007, EPA finally got around to step one of the process — releasing a list of chemicals to be tested and laying out the process for assessing risk. Critics assailed EPA’s program as scientifically flawed and accused the agency of designing experiments to purposefully minimize findings of adverse effects. Budget cuts are not likely to move the research along or improve the quality of the risk assessment process.
One last thing, from a note at the bottom of the committee’s press release:
These figures are based upon summary tables provided by EPA. Normally, EPA provides a detailed “Budget Justification” document with an explanation of all budget figures, but this year has failed to do so, undermining the transparency of the President’s proposed budget.
Not surprisingly, the administration isn’t just attempting to gut domestic programs, it’s trying to do it without telling Congress or the public.