EPA nixed study of treating oil spilled in Gulf of Mexico

My client, Dr. David L. LewisDr. David L. Lewis, was a top microbiologist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He raised the standards for dental hygiene worldwide when he showed how previous practices were inadequate to protect dental patients from the transmission of HIV. He showed how EPA’s rules for land application of sewage sludge did not have the scientific support needed to protect us from airborne diseases. Now the Environmental News Network (ENN) is reporting that in 1998, the EPA assigned Dr. Lewis to the University of Georgia in part to research the risks of crude oil spills from drilling rigs. Dr. Lewis was concerned that oil from a blowout could travel in deep sea currents to environmentally sensitive areas on all sides of the Atlantic. Anyone ever hear of the “Gulf Stream”? ENN is reporting that the Clinton Administration’s EPA nixed the project. The EPA’s Office of Water (OW), headed by Robert Perciasepe, coordinated with leaders of the biosolids industry (who were sore about Dr. Lewis’ research on the dangers posed by their industry) to damage his reputation and get him fired in 2003. ENN says that EPA Administrator Carol Browner was sympathetic but was “overruled at the highest level.” President Barack Obama appointed Browner to oversee energy and environmental issues, and appointed Perciasepe as EPA Deputy Administrator. It is too bad that we lost the opportunity to apply our top scientific talent to the problem of biological degradation of crude oil, and that those who sided with industry over our interests are again setting government policy. You can read Dr. Lewis’ paper on his proposal to study oil spills, how EPA squashed it, and then squashed his career at EPA, by following this link.

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