As feds close EPA libraries, researchers and others protest

Gagging didn’t work, so the feds are trying something new. The U.S. EPA has closed four of its research libraries and cut hours at seven more. The agency says materials will still be available digitally, but many worry that the shift will stymie scientists seeking data on, say, the 1,700 potentially hazardous chemicals introduced each year. The library system houses some 400,000 sources; a 2004 report showed that its librarians have saved EPA staff over 214,566 hours of research time, equating to more than $7.5 million. (The cutbacks are expected to save $2 million annually.) The American Library Association called the cuts “draconian,” while Jeffrey Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility equated them to a “self-imposed lobotomy.” Meanwhile, others are protesting the apparent dismantling of EPA’s Northwest environmental-justice office, which coincides with the appointment of a regional administrator who once worked at Dow Chemical. Weeding is fundamental!