Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
November 3, 2005


Washington, DC -- In its first restructuring under Administrator
Stephen Johnson, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is creating
a new "national security and intelligence" operation, according to an
agency email released today by Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (PEER). At the same time, EPA would eliminate the
Office of Children's Health Protection and bury its function inside an
environmental education bureau.

"It is not clear why the Environmental Protection Agency needs its own
clandestine service," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "This
appears to be yet another move to take the 'E' out of EPA."

The October 28th restructuring announcement states with respect to the
new intelligence function -

"Creating an Intelligence Operations function within the Office of
Homeland Security to advise the Administrator and other senior EPA
officials on matters related to national security and intelligence; to
serve as the principal Agency liaison to the U.S. intelligence
community; and to coordinate with EPA programs and Regions on matters
related to classified and other sensitive information."

"The term 'sensitive information' denotes that EPA is creating a new
category of secret information apart from the current security
classification system; a development that further erodes the public's
right to know what is happening in our environment," Ruch added.

The reorganization also abolishes the Office of Children's Health
Protection and transfers its work to an expanded environmental
education unit.

Established in 1997, the Office of Children's Health Protection is
supposed to ensure that the special vulnerability of children is
safeguarded in environmental standard-setting, enforcement and
prevention efforts.

Johnson's own role in childhood health issues was brought into stark
relief during his confirmation hearings over his advocacy of using
children in pesticide dosing experiments. Although Johnson cancelled
one controversial study (with the anomalous acronym of CHEERS) in
which parents were to be paid to spray pesticides in the room
primarily occupied by their infant children, he did so in the face of
threats by Democratic senators to block his confirmation. Since then,
Johnson has heatedly defended CHEERS and is pushing a plan to allow
children to be used in other chemical dosing experiments.

"Stephen Johnson is making it clear that he does not want to hear
another peep out of child health advocates within his agency," Ruch
added, noting that putting child health under environmental education
represents a serious de-emphasis. "This move is only slightly better
than putting children's health in the janitor's closet, given the
importance EPA assigns to environmental education."