Tuesday, May 10, 2011

‘Sound science’?

These comments were presented during the citizen’s comment period of the May 9th Commissioners Court session.

I’d like to begin by thanking Ronnie Moore for the timely forwarding of the letter that Bastrop County prepared in response to the permit application filed by developers of the proposed Central Texas Airport. For a fleeting moment, there was a glimmer of hope that the Court might finally advocate for the people of this County. But that glow didn’t last for long.

The first reading was a bit of a shocker. The bulk of the letter is a reiteration of the County’s position as a supporting agent and primary cheerleader for the proposed project that leaves no doubt where the County’s allegiance lies. The inclusions addressing water quality approved at the last Court session were tucked in at the end - almost an after thought from which the Court safely distanced itself.

But the nugget that really got me going was the request that the Corps follow ’sound science’ in making its determination.

There are certain catch phrases that are red flags to any activist who has engaged corporate America and their regulatory henchmen. One of the most often heard is the mantra of ’sound science’. That phrase is often intoned to justify rulings harmful to the public interest or to rationalize approval of risky and unproven technologies. Of course, the ’sound science’ referred to is usually generated by the perpetrators. Hence the lack of trust when that phrase pops up.

I’m not exactly a newbie to the regulatory charade that passes for public protection. Those of you who have been at this Court for a while are aware of my ongoing mission regarding genetically modified foods (GMOs). In fact, in February 2001 this very Court sent official letters to Senators Phil Gramm and Kay Baily Hutchison, Representative Ron Paul and the FDA in support of “mandatory labeling, independent long-term health and environmental safety testing, industry product liability and more critical oversight of the technology”.

Most of my experience has been with federal agencies that supposedly regulate agriculture and food safety. While I have no experience with the Corps, just seeing the phrase ’sound science’ tells me that the County is conversant in corporate/regulatory catch-phrase lingo. Seems that you’ve been taking lessons from Monsanto and other corporate baddies that are destroying this planet and poisoning us for profit. That mentality does not bode well for the future of Bastrop County.

Perhaps the Army Corps will actually do the right thing. Or perhaps it will follow the pattern all too familiar to those of us in the trenches trying to stem the tide. Time will tell.

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