BUSH AND LEAD….Since I’ve been writing about lead lately, here’s a timely excerpt from Eric Alterman and Mark Green’s The Book on Bush:
In one revealing case, Bush & Co. intervened at the precise moment that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention was set to consider once again lowering acceptable blood-lead levels in response to new scientific evidence. The Administration rejected nominee Bruce Lanphear and dumped panel member Michael Weitzman, both of whom previously advocated lowering the legal limit. Instead, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson appointed William Banner–who had testified on behalf of lead companies in poison-related litigation–and Joyce Tsuji, who had worked for a consulting firm whose clients include a lead smelter. (She later withdrew.) Banner and another appointee, Sergio Piomelli, were first contacted about serving on the committee not by a member of the Administration but by lead-industry representatives who appeared to be recruiting favorable committee members with the blessing of HHS officials.
That’s some “sound science” for you.
What’s so maddening is that lead is not like so many other environmental battles where there really can be reasonable disagreement about what the proper level of regulation is. Lead is just bad stuff, period, and at this point I don’t think there’s really much disagreement that current regulations are too lenient and that the effects of lead contamination are genuinely widespread and horrible, both for the victims themselves and for society as a whole.
Unfortunately, the Bush approach seems to be that if it’s environmental, and it’s a regulation, it must be bad. And don’t bother us with tedious facts, OK?