[govinfo] GovInfo News -- Special Alert

  • From: "Patrice McDermott" <pmcdermott@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "govinfo@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <govinfo@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2006 09:44:30 -0400

Patrice McDermott, Director
OpenTheGovernment.org
202-332-OPEN (6736)
www.openthegovernment.org

ALAWON
Volume 15, Number 115
DATE: October 26, 2006


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Save EPA Libraries!

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CALL BOTH OF YOUR SENATORS IMMEDIATELY AND ASK THEM TO SIGN ONTO the Boxer- 
Lautenberg  "Dear Colleague" letter asking the Senate Appropriations Committee 
to direct EPA to maintain access and research expertise at ALL of EPA's 
regional and headquarter libraries until the Agency solicits adequate public 
and Congressional input.


Background:

Senators Barbara Boxer and Frank Lautenberg have drafted a letter to the Senate 
Appropriations Committee stating their concern that EPA is dismantling their 
unique library system (see below).

As you know, the government, business and the general public depend on EPA's 
libraries to conduct research critical to protecting public health, enforcing 
environmental laws, and promoting sound economic, land-use
planning and other decisions.   Closure of these facilities will severely
limit, and in some cases eliminate, the information resources needed by those 
investigating issues critical to environmental safety and health.

Although EPA's FY2007 budget hasn't been passed yet, this year EPA has already 
eliminated or reduced library service covering 31 states (see list below below 
).

ACTION

CALL BOTH OF YOUR SENATORS TODAY AND ASK THEM TO SIGN ONTO Boxer- Lautenberg 
"Dear Colleague" letter!  The letter asks the Appropriators to direct EPA to 
maintain access and research expertise at all of EPA's regional and headquarter 
libraries until the Agency solicits adequate public and Congressional input.

The deadline for signing the letter is November 1st, so call today!  Tell your 
Senator's Office that they can arrange to sign the letter by calling Grant Cope 
(4-7931) or Daniel Rosenberg (4-7225) and that they must do so before November 
1st.

  Letter to Senate Appropriations Committee:

October 26, 2006



Honorable Thad Cochran, Chair
Appropriations Committee
U.S. Senate

Honorable Conrad Burns, Chair
Appropriations Committee
Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies U.S. Senate Honorable Robert C. 
Byrd, Ranking Member Appropriations Committee U.S. Senate

Honorable Byron Dorgan, Ranking Member
Appropriations Committee
Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies U.S. Senate

Dear Colleague:

         We are writing to request that you direct the Environmental Protection 
Agency (EPA) to restore and maintain public access and onsite library 
collections and services at EPA's headquarters, regional, laboratory, and 
specialized program libraries while the Agency solicits and considers public 
input on its plan to drastically cut its library budget and services.  
Government representatives, businesses and citizens use information in these 
libraries to protect public health, enforce environmental laws, and promote 
sound decision-making.  We are concerned that EPA is already dismantling its 
unique library system without including the public or Members of Congress in 
the decision-making.  Congress should not allow EPA to gut its library system, 
which plays a critical role in supporting the Agency's mission to protect the 
environment and public health.

EPA has already eliminated or reduced library service to the public in seven 
EPA regions covering 31 states and is planning to close its Headquarters' 
library and maintain it only as a repository.  (Attachment)  EPA has also 
closed its pesticide and toxics program library, reducing access to unique 
materials needed to assess pesticides and other chemicals' potential health 
effects on children.  EPA is implementing these devastating closures on the 
grounds that they expect to save $2 million.

         EPA's libraries provide far more benefits than the minor cost 
reductions resulting from their closure.  A 2004 EPA report found that 
"[c]alculated conservatively, the benefit-to-cost ratio for EPA library 
services ranges between 2:1 and 5.7:1."  The report noted that libraries saved 
EPA professional staff $7.5 million and non-EPA personnel $2.8 million, in 
2003; and that one-third of the libraries' work gave EPA $22 million in 
benefits.

         The American Library Association, American Association of Law 
Libraries, and Special Library Association strongly oppose the cuts, pointing 
out that EPA has "unique collections, including an estimated 50,000 
one-of-a-kind primary source documents that are available nowhere else."  Notes 
provided by the American Library Association that recount a meeting with EPA on 
the library closures state that their warnings that the Agency should develop a 
new system before closing libraries "fell on deaf ears."  Unions representing 
10,000 EPA scientists, engineers, and other staff have similar concerns.  They 
note that "[t]he ability of EPA to respond to emergencies will be reduced 
because important reference materials may be unavailable or take significant 
time to receive from storage or another library."

         A document from EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance 
(OECA) about the library restructuring expresses concern about the Agency's 
failure to adequately assess costs and funding needs, maintain critical 
information, and ensure data accessibility.  OECA notes that the libraries have 
information important to specific regions, states and locales, and unique data 
on industrial processes and analytical methods.  OECA has indicated that it 
fears that dispersal of this material without proper tracking and access could 
undercut rulemakings and the ability to "substantiate and support findings, 
determinations, and guidance."

We are extremely troubled that EPA is rushing to eliminate or reduce library 
operations without adequately consulting Congress or the public.  We 
respectfully request that you direct EPA in the FY 2007 Interior and Related 
Agencies Appropriations Bill to restore and maintain public access and onsite 
library collections and services at EPA's headquarters, regional, laboratory, 
and specialized program libraries to the status they held as of January 1, 
2006.  We also ask that you direct EPA to solicit and consider public and 
Congressional input, in an open process, prior to making any decision to close 
a library, cut services, or dramatically restructure the Agency's library 
system.

Sincerely,

Barbara Boxer                                           Frank R. Lautenberg
United States Senator                                United States Senator


CC:  Senator Ted Stevens
Senator Arlen Specter
Senator Pete Domenici
Senator Christopher Bond
Senator Mitch McConnell
Senator Richard Shelby
Senator Judd Gregg
Senator Robert Bennett
Senator Larry Craig
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson
Senator Mike DeWine
Senator Sam Brownback
Senator Wayne Allard
Senator Daniel Inouye
Senator Patrick Leahy
Senator Tom Harkin
Senator Barbara Mikulski
Senator Harry Reid
Senator Herb Kohl
Senator Patty Murray
Senator Dianne Feinstein
Senator Richard Durbin
Senator Tim Johnson
Senator Mary Landrieu



Status of EPA Regional Library Closures and Reductions in Service:

(Specialized Libraries Not Included)

1.  Closed
    * Region 5, which served Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and 
Wisconsin.
    * Regions 6, which serves Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, 
and Iowa.
    * Region 7, which serves Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.

2.   Closed to the Public with Reduced Hours to EPA Staff
    * Region 2 Library, which served New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the 
Virgin Islands.

3.  Reduced Access to EPA Staff and the Public
    * EPA Region 1, which serves Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New 
Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
    * EPA Region 9, which serves Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the 
Pacific Islands, and Tribal Nations.
    * EPA Region 10, which serves Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Native 
Tribes.
    * EPA Headquarters

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