The 2007 Federal Budget proposed by the Bush Administration and currently before Congress includes a budget cut that would entirely eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency’s 27 libraries nationwide, including San Francisco’s own EPA Region 9 library. The Region 9 library provides the public, free of charge, with environmental data on CA, AZ, NV, HA and the lands of 140 tribal nations. The importance of this library cannot be understated. The importance of this library cannot be understated in providing citizens with scientific data about pollutants, wildlife, and energy resources in our city, state and beyond.
The San Francisco Region 9 library has already had its hours reduced and is limiting public access. This is especially bad news for the often low-income, immigrant and minority communities in San Francisco, and their advocates, who reside in some of the city’s most polluted neighborhoods, to whom environmental information is critical to their health and safety.
The bulk of the library's work is in serving the EPA's scientists, researchers and policy makers, providing them with the information that they need to make informed decisions, and under the Bush Administration's plan, both the documents and the information specialists who organize and provide it to the EPA's staff will be gone.
Surprisingly, far from fighting the proposed budget cuts, E.P.A management, over the objection of 10,000 of it’s own scientists who have signed a petition in protest, started implementing a shutdown of services over the last several months, when Congress was not in session – before the Presidents proposed budget was even debated, much less approved (which it still has not).
On their own initiative, the Bush appointee led E.P.A has closed the libraries in Dallas, Chicago and Kansas City, MO. The library in Washington, D.C., while nominally still open to E.P.A staff, has been closed to the public.
The E.P.A has responded that it plans to put documents online, but as the Special Library Association noted, they have not put forward a concrete proposal to do so, have been discarding document originals before copies can be made, and in fact, have been deleting born-digital files from its website, a move that does not save the E.P.A any funding.
For more information:
Public Employees for Environmental Reform (PEER): http://www.peer.org/campaigns/epa_library/index.php
The E.P.A. Budget for 2007, including cuts: http://www.peer.org/docs/epa/06_21_8_library_plan.pdf
E.P.A Scientists Letter of Protest: http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=706
Special Library Association: http://www.capwiz.com/sla/issues/?style=D&