In an unprecedented action, representatives for more than 10,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scientists are calling on Congress to take immediate action against global warming, according to a petition released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The petition also calls for an end to censorship of agency scientists and other specialists on topics of climate change and the effects of air pollution.
The petition stresses that time is running out to prevent cataclysmic environmental changes induced by human-caused pollution and urges Congress to undertake prompt actions:
“If we wait, we will be committing the next generation of Americans to approximately double the current global warming concentrations, with the associated adverse impacts on human health and the environment.”
The filing of this petition coincides with today’s oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on a case (Massachusetts v. EPA, Case No. 05-1120) brought by states seeking to force the Bush administration to regulate greenhouse gases that fuel global warming under the Clean Air Act.
The petition signatories represent more than half of the total agency workforce. Addressed to the members of the Senate and House committees overseeing EPA, the petition argues that:
The Bush administration strategy of “using primarily voluntary and incentive-based programs” to reduce greenhouse gases is not working nor “has [this approach] been effectively carried out;”
EPA has abdicated its enforcement responsibilities by “failing to investigate coal-electric plants for technical options to control carbon;” and
“EPA’s scientists and engineers [must be able] to speak frankly and directly with Congress and the public regarding climate change, without fear of reprisal.”
“Professionals working for the Environmental Protection Agency are protesting being ordered to sit on the sidelines while we face the greatest environmental challenge of our generation,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the petition began among agency staff.
“Under a new Congress, perhaps the scientists at EPA can begin to directly communicate with their true employers – the American public.”
The letter is signed by presidents of 22 locals of five unions: the American Federation of Government Employees, the Engineers and Scientists of California, the National Association of Government Employees, the National Association of Independent Labor, and the National Treasury Employees Union. These unions represent more than 10,000 EPA scientists, engineers and other technical specialists.
The newly elected Democratic Congress would be wise to heed this request.