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EDITORIAL: Bury the messenger

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If you can't muzzle the whistleblower, try to marginalize him. That seems to be the strategy of the Obama administration, which is showing that its commitment to liberal ideology trumps its pledge to foster open government.

In June, the Competitive Enterprise Institute made waves by releasing internal e-mails from the Environmental Protection Agency. In those messages, a top administrator told a key researcher that the researcher's new report would not be released. Why? Because it does "not help the legal or policy case" for a controversial decision to treat global warming as a health hazard. In short, because researcher Alan Carlin's conclusions differed from the administration's political agenda, his research was ignored.

Mr. Carlin, who holds a doctorate in economics with an undergraduate degree in physics, examined numerous studies on global warming. His scorching message to his political bosses at EPA: "I have become increasingly concerned that EPA has itself paid too little attention to the science of global warming. EPA and others have tended to accept the findings reached by outside groups... as being correct without a careful and critical examination." That examination shows, Mr. Carlin said, that "available observable data... invalidate the hypothesis" that humans cause serious global warming.

With the administration so heavily invested in a regulatory scheme to combat supposed warming, this message was far from welcome. Hence the effort to bury the report, an effort that was thwarted when Mr. Carlin posted the report on a personal Web site.

The administration struck back. Mr. Carlin works for the EPA's National Center for Environmental Economics. On Friday, Inside Washington Publishers reported that "Obama EPA officials are said to be considering scrapping" the center's role in scientific analysis. Never mind the reality that doing so would undermine the entire reason for its existence, namely (citing the article) "researching environmental health issues to improve risk assessment data used in economic analyses for [new regulatory] rules."

If the office can't analyze the science in order to determine a regulation's economic effects, it won't have any basis for figuring out those effects. Hiding scientific research is not what Americans expect from a president who boasted that his administration would "restore science to its rightful place." And for a president who promised to "strengthen whistleblower laws," this attempt to marginalize a true whistleblower smacks of insincerity. Its implications for economic and environmental policy are dangerous.

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