Scientists in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say they've been forced to alter or withhold findings that would have led to greater protections for endangered species, according to a survey released Wednesday by two environmental
Forty-four percent of the scientists who responded to the survey said they have been asked by their superiors to avoid making findings that would require greater protection of endangered species.
One in five agency scientists reported being directed to alter or withhold technical information from scientific documents.
And more than half of the respondents -- 56 percent -- said agency officials have reversed or withdrawn scientific conclusions under pressure from industry groups.
Last week, the inspector general of the Environmental Protection Agency reported that the agency has failed to fully assess the health impacts of mercury pollution because political appointees have intervened and compromised scientific practices. EPA officials denied the charge.
"The political manipulation of science is an ongoing problem with this administration," said Lexi Shultz of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
One scientist from the Pacific region, which includes California and five other western states, reported being involved in two decisions to list species as endangered that were reversed, allegedly due to political pressure.
"Science was ignored -- and, worse, manipulated to build a bogus set of rationale for reversal of these listing decisions," the scientist wrote.
Another scientist from the Pacific region concluded: "I have never seen so many findings and recommendations by the field be turned around at the regional and Washington level. All we can do at the field level is ensure that our administrative record is complete and hope we get sued by an environmental or conservation organization."
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