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Pelosi, Colleagues to President Bush: Put Science Before Politics

Location: Washington DC

Pelosi, Colleagues to President Bush: Put Science Before Politics

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Washington, D.C. - House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Representatives George Miller (D-CA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Rush Holt (D-NJ) sent the following letter to President Bush this afternoon requesting that he order all political appointees in his Administration not to put politics before science. The letter is in response to news reports today about the resignation of Food and Drug Administration Assistant Commissioner Susan Wood and about draft Bush Administration regulations that would relax air quality standards for power plants.

August 31, 2005

President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President:

Today, two news accounts are again raising questions about whether your Administration places a higher value on politics than it does on scientific evidence when making decisions that affect public health, the environment, or other areas of public policy. We are writing to request that you issue to your entire Administration a clear directive that politics must never get in the way of sound scientific decision-making.

Today, we learned from the Associated Press that Susan Wood, the Assistant Commissioner for Women's Health at the Food and Drug Administration, has resigned her long-held position because of an announcement last week by the FDA that the agency plans to indefinitely postpone a decision to make emergency contraception available over-the-counter.

This decision, as Dr. Wood wrote today in an email message to colleagues that later was made public, will have the effect of greatly limiting a woman's ability to obtain emergency contraception. Sadly, this decision could increase unwanted pregnancies and abortions among American women, and it represents a clear triumph of politics over sound, deliberative policymaking.

We also learned today from an article in this morning's Washington Post that your Administration has prepared draft regulations that would allow both old and modern power plants to pollute more, not less. These anti-community, pro-industry regulations would, if approved, have harmful implications for public health and air quality.

Eric Schaeffer, who resigned in 2002 from his position as head of the Office of Regulatory Enforcement at the Environmental Protection Agency, told the Washington Post that under these new rules, older power plants would "never" reach compliance with existing air quality laws.

We have seen numerous other documented cases of political considerations trumping scientific determinations during your Administration. While you and your spokespeople have offered public assurances that the Administration does not place politics over science, the record indicates that the opposite is often true. In many cases, political decisions have prompted the resignations - whether in protest or frustration - of agency scientists and senior policymakers, robbing the American people of these public servants' important contributions.

It is time, once and for all, to make clear to every political appointee in your Administration that there will be consequences for overruling scientific determinations for political reasons. We request that you issue a clear directive in this regard to every agency and department in your Administration.


Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader
George Miller, Member of Congress
Rosa DeLauro, Member of Congress
Rush Holt, Member of Congress

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