- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
According to the notice, the agency wants to comply with the 1974 privacy act. The announcement does make one wonder just why they need to hide the information on who is giving advice after all this time. It seems to me that it should work in their favor if they are open and transparent about the people that sit on these boards and what their backgrounds are. Hiding these facts will only work to raise suspicion and cast doubts in my opinion. There will always be those claiming the government is trying to hide things and manipulate outcomes and this action just makes that easier.
These EPA advisors work on about 50 projects each year. They attend meetings to discuss issues approximately 80 times each year. That is a pretty busy schedule. Currently, members of one board also sit on another. These members are carefully selected for their expertise and reputation on environmental issues. If the agency succeeds in making this change, the public will not know, nor be able to find out, who sits on the boards or what their backgrounds and qualifications are.
Advisors come from various backgrounds. Most work at universities across the country. Some are from industry and some are involved in environmental watch groups. It is a prestigious position to attain. By balancing the groups as they currently are, the agency is assured to get a broad base of opinions to help in their final decisions. Right now, EPA can announce a particular topic has been reviewed by one of the board of advisors and that statement carries some weight. If the public has no idea other than what the agency tells us as to who makes up these panels, there will be doubt sown by detractors. The confidence will be gone.
EPA asked for comments from the public on this intention. Comments were due by August 24, a mere 42 days after publication, which seems to me to be a rather short time period for something so important. I suggest that any reading this blog before then go to the EPA website and make a short or long comment. There are many ways to submit comments. Here are a few. Go to www.regulations.gov. Follow the onscreen directions and use EPA-HQ- 2008-0062 as the document ID. Fax comments to (202) 566-1752. or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and use the ID mentioned earlier.
Personally, I do not believe this action adds to the notion that the EPA wants to be more transparent. I wonder if the media will raise any ruckus over this action as they did when the previous administration refused to disclose who their advisors were as they developed, or tried to develop, a new energy plan. In watching the government in action, maybe I just have the wrong definition of transparency. Maybe it really means looking at something with my eyes closed.