Microbiologist and former U.S. EPA employee David Lewis testified to Congress yesterday that the agency had knowingly used unreliable data when denying a petition to stop the use of sewage sludge as fertilizer. The petition, from 73 labor, environmental, and farm groups, was denied last December based on data from two Georgia dairy farms that Georgia officials had already rejected as “completely unreliable, possibly even fraudulent.” State agencies there had in fact found that the sludge was highly toxic and corrosive, enough so to dissolve wooden fences and sicken cattle, according to Lewis. He says that when he raised objections, he was fired from the EPA (after working there for 32 years); he characterized whistleblower protections at the agency as “nothing more than a scam.” Said EPA spokesperson Cynthia Bergman, “Mr. Lewis is entitled to his opinion.”