More than half of the U.S. scientists surveyed by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) said they have experienced political interference in their work, the UCS said Wednesday.
The online questionnaire was sent to 5,419 scientists working at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last summer, the UCS said.
Of the 1,586 scientists who replied, 889 reported that they had experienced at least one type of interference within the past five years, the USC said in a report.
The survey results show "an agency under siege from political pressures," said the report.
The survey respondents were split over the impact of political interference on regulations. According to the report, 48 percent believed that the EPA's actions are "frequently or always" consistent with scientific findings, while 47 percent believed that the agency's policy "occasionally, seldom or never" made use of its scientific judgments.
The findings beefed up allegations that the Bush administration has been watering down documents regarding climate change, industry language inserted into the EPA power plant regulations and scientific advisory panels' conclusions about toxic chemicals going unheeded.
The survey documents the widespread nature of the problem at the EPA, said Francesca Grifo, director of the scientific integrity program for the Washington-based UCS.
She acknowledged that scientists who are frustrated and upset might have been more likely than those who are satisfied to respond to her organization's survey, but added: "Nearly 900 EPA scientists reported political interference in their scientific work. That's 900 too many."
But EPA spokesman Jonathan Shradar said that "all of the issues we deal with are issues that we all are very passionate about. It's important that we let the scientists do the science and allow policy makers to do the policy work."