The current plan for the Bush budget includes cutting, nay, obliterating the Environmental Protection Agency’s library system. Not even the central catalog, the only record of the extensive collection of research and unique documents, would remain. The EPA would no longer know what information it had and that information would no longer be readily available to either the public or its own researchers.

A press release from the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility outlines the scope of the cuts and includes links to fuller information about the services provided by the EPA library system. Excerpts and key legislative contacts on the flip.

Washington, DC — Under President Bush’s proposed budget, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is slated to shut down its network of libraries that serve its own scientists as well as the public, according to internal agency documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In addition to the libraries, the agency will pull the plug on its electronic catalog which tracks tens of thousands of unique documents and research studies that are available nowhere else.

Under Bush’s plan, $2 million of a total agency library budget of $2.5 million will be lost, including the entire $500,000 budget for the EPA Headquarters library and its electronic catalog that makes it possible to search for documents through the entire EPA library network. These reductions are just a small portion of the $300 million in cuts the administration has proposed for EPA operations.

… EPA currently operates a network of 27 libraries operating out of its Washington, D.C. Headquarters and ten regional offices across the country. The size of the cuts will force the Headquarters library and most of the regional libraries to shut their doors and cease operations. Each year, the EPA libraries –

  • Handle more than 134,000 research requests from its own scientific and enforcement staff;
  • House and catalog an estimated 50,000 “unique” documents that are available nowhere else; and
  • Operate public reading rooms and provide the public with access to EPA databases. …

The announcement, which includes links to more extensive information on the services provided by the EPA libraries, goes on to note that though Bush has laid out a simultaneous plan to invest in certain avenues of EPA research, scientists carrying out that research at the EPA would have no centrally accessible record allowing them to search past work or stay up to date with distant colleagues or current research.

The following members of Congress are on the relevant committees, but feel free to write your direct representatives if they aren’t on this list. Their offices may not be aware of this issue and if they’re concerned about environmental issues, they might appreciate an informative letter on the topic.

SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE on Interior and Related Agencies:

Senator Conrad Burns (Chairman) (MT)

Senator Ted Stevens (AK)

Senator Thad Cochran (MS)

Senator Pete Domenici (NM)

Senator Robert Bennett (UT)

Senator Judd Gregg (NH)

Senator Larry Craig (ID)

Senator Wayne Allard (CO)

Senator Byron Dorgan (Ranking Member) (ND)

Senator Robert C. Byrd (WV)

Senator Patrick Leahy (VT)

Senator Harry Reid (NV)

Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA)

Senator Barbara Mikulski (MD)

Senator Herb Kohl (WI)

HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE on Interior and Related Agencies:

Charles H. Taylor, NC (R – Chairman)                    

Zach Wamp, TN (R)

John E. Peterson, PA (R)                

Don Sherwood, PA (R)    

Ernest J. Istook, Jr., OK (R)          

Robert Aderholt, AL (R)                          

ohn Doolittle, CA (R)                    

Michael K. Simpson, ID (R – Vice Chair)

Norman D. Dicks, WA (D – Ranking Member)

James P. Moran, VA (D)

Maurice D. Hinchey, NY (D)

John W. Olver, MA (D)

Alan B. Mollohan, WV (D)

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