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  April 7, 2004  

SCIENCE POLICY

  MARBURGER RESPONDS TO ALLEGATIONS THAT WHITE HOUSE POLITICIZES SCIENCE  

  BETTE HILEMAN  
   

 
  Allegations by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) that the White House has been politicizing science are "preposterous," says President George W. Bush's science adviser John H. Marburger III. In a 20-page response, as requested by Congress, he delivers a pointed criticism of the UCS report that was issued in February (C&EN, Feb. 23, page 5).

For example, a UCS accusation that a political litmus test is applied before someone can serve on an federal science advisory panel is untrue, Marburger says. "This Administration believes in tapping the best scientific minds both inside and outside the government."

He adds, "President Bush sought me out to be his science advisor ... and I am a lifelong Democrat." In addition, many other Democrats serve on advisory panels, Marburger says.

In another instance, UCS claims that the White House pressured EPA to remove information on global climate change from its draft "Report on the Environment 2003." But Marburger responds that EPA "appropriately" referred readers to a long discussion in the Climate Change Science Strategic Plan issued in July instead of including information on global change in its draft.

The UCS report also claims that an OMB bulletin on proposed peer review of science used for federal regulations would exclude scientists who receive government funding from serving on those peer review panels.

Not true, says Marburger. Government funding is "only one factor that agencies should consider when determining which scientists should be selected."

The Administration's critics are not swayed by Marburger's responses. Lewis M. Branscomb, an emeritus professor of science policy at Harvard University, and other scientists involved with the UCS report write, "We would point out that the cases that trouble us have been reported before in respected scientific journals and newspapers and corroborated by the scientists who were directly involved."

The critics urge Marburger to set up a process to deal with allegations of the politicization of science.
 
     
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