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The Sciences

White House Excludes EPA From Hurricane Response Task Force

Cosmic VarianceBy Risa WechslerSeptember 6, 2005 4:41 PM


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From Inside EPA:

The White House has convened a Cabinet-level task force in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that does not include EPA, prompting a number government watchdog groups to raise concerns that the exclusion may reflect an effort to downplay the extent of environmental contamination in the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast region. President Bush announced Aug. 31 that the Red Cross and 10 federal agencies, including the Small Business Administration and the Department of Labor, but not EPA, are part of the "federal response" to the damage caused by the hurricane. [...] One source with the government watchdog group OMB Watch says the administration was "short sighted by not including [EPA] right away," saying it is likely that toxic material, human waste and other contaminants released as as a result of the hurricane are polluting the area and threatening public health. The source speculates that the White House excluded EPA from the task force because of a fear that agency staff may find politically damaging information, similar to what happened in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, when EPA was critical of the administration's response to the environmental contamination caused by the terrorist attacks.

Oh yeah, I forgot. This isn't a time for politics.

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