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Joseph Bast: Will the National Academy of Sciences Allow the EPA to Get Away with Murder?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been twisting science and epidemiology to fit an extreme environmental agenda for years, but finally, finally!, it may be about to be hoisted with its own petard. Assuming, that is, that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) doesn’t ignore its legal and ethical mandate to perform an honest evaluation of EPA’s misconduct.

A merry band of public health experts has been on EPA’s trail for several years, hoping to expose a profound dilemma: Either EPA broke the law by sponsoring human experiments forbidden under domestic and international law, custom, and medical/scientific ethics, or it has repeatedly lied to Congress and the American people about the health threat of exposure to low levels of particulate matter.

The experts bringing this charge are Steve Milloy, HS, JD, LLM, publisher of JunkScience.com and senior legal fellow with the Energy & Environment Legal Institute; John Dunn, MD, JD; statistician Stan Young, Ph.D.; epidemiologist James Enstrom, Ph.D.; and Albert Donnay, MHS. All five presented testimony to a special committee of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences convened specifically in response to charges of EPA scientific misconduct made by Milloy to members of Congress.

Testimony by all five experts is available on a page at JunkScience.com. The Heartland Institute lightly edited Dr. Dunn’s testimony and reformatted it with his permission. It is available via PolicyBot, Heartland’s online database and search engine, here.

The witnesses present extensive documentation of EPA’s exaggeration of the health threats of exposure to extremely low levels of particulate matter (PM) in order to justify ever more draconian restrictions of power plant emissions and emissions from other sources. They then document that EPA has testified under oath that it is conducting experiments on human subjects, including children and senior citizens, involving exposure to levels of PM it alleges to be life-threatening. There is no evidence that the subjects of these experiments were ever told EPA believes exposure to even small amounts of PM could be deadly.

So which is it? Is EPA lying when it says even trace amounts of PM in the air kill hundreds of thousands of people every year? Or is it lying to hundreds of volunteers who participate in experiments involving exposure to levels of PM that EPA claims are toxic?

Dr. Dunn writes, “I assert that ambient small particle air pollution is benign and isn’t killing anybody. In 45 years of medical practice I am still waiting for a death from small particle exposure. Unreliable epidemiology makes possible the scare about air pollution, but it is an empty vessel. Epidemiology is not junk science, it’s just limited to be less than proof of causation because it is so uncontrolled, but epidemiology can become deceitful if done without recognizing the limits of the methods and the uncertainties. I see this US EPA air pollution research project – that has been funded by billions, from mostly government sources – as a gigantic deceit, built on uncontrolled observational studies and projecting non-proof small associations to create big claims of deaths in particular.”

Dr. Dunn concludes his testimony with the following words: “The committee must ask, under what circumstances could these human experiments on minors be ethical or legal? The answer, surely, is ‘none,’ unless EPA and its researchers walk back their claims that hundreds, thousands, even millions, of people are dying from exposure to ambient levels of small particle air pollution.

“How is that going to happen in this hyper political world? How can we achieve scientific integrity in a world where money and influence push science with a political agenda, and where so many scientists are motivated knowingly or unconsciously to lie for what they think is a just cause?

“The problem of scientific integrity is a big problem caused by ‘Big Science.’ Milloy, Young and I are here to ask the committee to consider the violation of ethics, morality and the law committed by the human experiments promoted by EPA. We all fret about scientific integrity, but do we want to fix the problem? This is your opportunity to do so.”

Will NAS do the right thing and either condemn EPA for conducting illegal experiments on human subjects, or demand EPA retract its inflated claims about the dangers of exposure to low levels of particulate matter? Or will NAS allow itself to be used as a doormat by EPA and others in the Obama administration, and offer up a whitewash that keeps the Left’s extremist environmental agenda plowing along, needlessly costing hundreds of billions of dollars and millions of jobs every year?

Stay tuned.

Joseph Bast is president of The Heartland Institute and publisher of Environment & Climate News.

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