An article in the LA Times today reveals how the U.S. EPA has been completely emasculated in recent years. It focuses on TCE, an industrial chemical found in the nation’s water supply. After four years of study, the EPA concluded that TCE was as much as forty times more likely to cause cancer as previously believed. That was in 2001.

Concerned about a potential $1.5 billion in cleanup cost, the Pentagon handled things their way: they launched a pre-emptive strike against the EPA, wielding political power and deploying bureaucratic red tape in a campaign of Shock and Audit:

The political maneuvering marked a significant change, [lead author of the 2001 risk assessment V James] Cogliano said. In the 1980s, Defense Department officials accepted every possible safeguard recommended by the EPA for incinerators to burn nerve gas and other chemical weapons, he recalled.

At that time, Defense Department officials said, “You put in every margin of safety, because we want to be sure it will be safe,” he said. “There was no argument. There is a different spirit today.”

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He added that the first sign of this shift was probably when the Bush Administration requested that EPA risk assessments be submitted in the form of dartboards.

Much like the cottage industry that has arisen around global-warming naysayers, today there is a huge amount of money being spent on research to undermine the EPA.

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“Inside the Beltway, it is an accepted fact that the science of EPA is not good,” said Gilman, now director of the Oak Ridge Center for Advanced Studies in Tennessee, which conducts broad research on energy, the environment and other areas of science. Gilman said an entire consulting industry has sprung up in Washington to attack the EPA and sow seeds of doubt about its capabilities.

So if you live in an area contaminated by TCE and you have cancer, no problem — just hire one of these Beltway consulting agencies. They’ll tell you you’re cancer free.