The Memory Hole Goes Green

Having previously suppressed, ignored, and dishonestly redacted scientific reports that proved politically inconvenient, the Bush administration has taken the next logical step.

The Environment News Service reports:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is closing its Headquarters Library to the public, as well as its own staff, effective October 1. The decision, formally announced Wednesday in a Federal Register notice, cites lack of funding for the closure. The Headquarters Library collection contains 380,000 documents on microfiche, including technical reports produced by EPA and its predecessor agencies, a microforms collection that includes back files of abstracts and indexes, 5,500 hard copy EPA documents, as well as more than 16,000 books and technical reports produced by government agencies other than EPA.

This shutdown is the latest in a series of agency library closures during the past few weeks, government watchdogs said, and as with the other library collections, the books, reports and research monographs in the EPA Headquarters Library have been boxed up and are currently inaccessible to anyone.

"EPA is busily crating up and locking away its institutional memory," said Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that more than 10,000 EPA scientists and other specialists are protesting the library closures as hindering their ability to do their jobs. "Despite its 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' public statements, EPA has no coherent plan let alone a timetable for making these collections available."

The agency has not said when any of the materials at the library will again become available to its staff or the public either via the Internet or through inter-library loans. It has no dedicated funds for digitizing hard copies, making microfiche available online or re-cataloguing the tens of thousands of documents that will be relocated to large storage areas called "information repositories."

Ruch criticized EPA for failing to at least issue public notice for its closures of its regional libraries in Chicago, Dallas and Kansas City. The three libraries provide services for the general public in 15 states and 109 tribal nations.

But the library closures have generated interest from Congress and House Democrats have asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate the effects that the EPA library closures will have on access to environmental information and the impacts on scientific research, regulatory quality and enforcement capability.

Think of it as streamlining-- you don't have spend time pretending your own experts don't know what they are talking about, if no one can read their reports in the first place


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