Congressman Suggests Ways to Improve Environmental Policy in U.S

Article excerpt

TULSA -- Deceit and bureaucratic bent have infiltrated the making of environmental policy, U.S. Rep. Tom Coburn says.

Coburn, R-Okla., spoke at a symposium that drew about 200 participants from nine states and Washington, D.C. They represented advocacy groups, American Indian tribes, state and federal agencies, corporations, oil associations and law schools.

He and other speakers said regulation of the environment must be based on sound science and cooperation rather than on political agendas and confrontation. "As long as we continue to use a bipolar look at positions, we're going to have a lot of wasted energy fighting each other, rather than solving the problems that are before us," Coburn said. "I think today the American public believes that protecting the environment is the right thing to do," said Dave McCurdy, a Democrat who represented Oklahoma's 4th District in Congress for 14 years. "We're not debating the goals. We are debating the means, the methods." The symposium was called "Redefining Environmental Protection: The Case for Change." One example Coburn cited was asbestos, a combustible fibrous material that is harmful to the lungs when breathed and was often used in insulation. Removal of asbestos actually exposed people to greater medical harm, Coburn said. "We did that on the basis of poor science. We did that on the basis of emotion," Coburn said. …