As Feds Classify More Info, Environment Could Be Affected

Since 9/11, the Bush administration has upped secrecy at a growing number of agencies, all in the name of fighting terrorism. Much of the information newly deemed sensitive has direct implications for the environment and public health. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will no longer make safety scorecards for nuclear facilities public. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has said he is considering removing hazardous-waste signs from trucks and trains, lest they tip off shadowy evildoers. A highway bill now in congressional committee would allow the government to withhold information “detrimental to the security of transportation, transportation facilities or infrastructure, or transportation employees,” language so vague that Environmental Defense says it could be used to conceal hazardous-waste spills or the routes by which nuclear waste is transported. Though the recent 9/11 Commission report said too much information was classified already, the federal Information and Security Oversight Office says the number of classified government documents is only increasing.