Bush admin alters science to support expanded grazing on public lands

In developing new proposed regulations for cattle grazing on public lands, the Bush administration intentionally obscured the damage grazing causes, according to two government scientists. Erick Campbell and Bill Brookes, both recently retired from the Bureau of Land Management, determined in an environmental impact statement that the new rules, which would increase grazing on 160 million acres of public land, would harm water resources and wildlife, including endangered species. But in the statement accompanying the newly released regulations, lo, the science has been transformed. The rules, which once would have had a “significant adverse impact,” are now “beneficial to animals.” (Well, cows are animals, we suppose.) They would restrain BLM staffers from acting quickly to limit grazing that’s damaging land; lengthy studies would now be required instead. And public input on grazing decisions would no longer be mandated, merely allowed. While a BLM official calls the changes part of the agency’s standard review process, Campbell and Brookes are dismayed. “They rewrote everything,” says Campbell. “It’s a crime.”