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EPA Closure of Libraries Faulted For Curbing Access to Key Data
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Washington Post


Washington Post, March 14, 2008
Posted: March 19th, 2008
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03...

A plan by the Environmental Protection Agency to close several of its 26 research libraries did not fully account for the impact on government staffers and the public, who rely on the libraries for hard-to-find environmental data, congressional investigators reported yesterday. The report by the Government Accountability Office found that the EPA effort, begun in 2006 to comply with a $2 million funding cut sought by the White House, ... hurt access to materials and services in the 37-year-old library network. Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, said the report reveals a "grim picture" of mismanagement at the EPA. The libraries provide technical information and documentation for enforcement cases and help EPA staff members track new environmental technologies and the health risks associated with dangerous chemicals. They also are repositories of scientific information that is used to back up the agency's positions on new regulations and environmental reports and data that are tapped by people such as developers and state and local officials. The collections include hard-to-find copies of documents on federal Superfund hazardous waste sites, water-quality data and the health of regional ecosystems. Under the plan, EPA closed physical access to three regional office libraries in Chicago, Kansas City and Dallas, and to the headquarters library and the Chemical Library in Washington. Operating hours were reduced at libraries in Seattle, San Francisco, New York and Boston. Investigators noted that users of the Chemical Library -- which served EPA scientists who review industry requests to sell new chemicals -- did not learn of the facility's closure until after it occurred.

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