Junk science is no longer welcome at the Environmental Protection Agency. Administrator Scott Pruitt has declared war on what he calls “secret science” – the process whereby EPA regulators have been able to craft rules using non-publicly-available science data.
“We need to make sure their data and methodology are published as part of the record. Otherwise, it’s not transparent. It’s not objectively measured, and that’s important.”
This decision will correct a longstanding injustice at the EPA, perpetrated against the U.S. taxpayer. For years the EPA has been able to behave as a law unto itself, cavalierly passing regulations which restrict freedoms, hamper business and hold back the U.S. economy for reasons which have much more to do with left-leaning environmentalist politics than with objective science.
The problem dates back to the early 1990s when the EPA decided it wanted to regulate fine particulate matter known as PM2.5 but couldn’t find any hard scientific evidence proving it was harmful.
PM2.5 was not known to cause death, but by 1994 EPA-supported scientists had developed two lines of research purporting to show that it did. When the studies were run past the EPA’s Clean Air Science Advisory Committee, it balked. It believed the studies relied on dubious statistical analysis and asked for the underlying data. The EPA ignored the request.
As the EPA prepared to issue its proposal for PM2.5 regulation in 1996, Congress stepped in. Rep. Thomas Bliley, chairman of the House Commerce Committee, sent a sharply written letter to Administrator Carol Browner asking for the data underlying studies. Ms. Browner delegated the response to a subordinate, who told Mr. Bliley the EPA saw “no useful purpose” in obtaining the data. Congress responded by inserting a provision in a 1998 bill requiring that data used to support federal regulation must be made available to the public via the Freedom of Information Act. But it was hastily written, and a federal appellate court held the law unenforceable in 2003.
The controversy went dormant until 2011, when a newly Republican Congress took exception to the Obama EPA’s anticoal rules, which relied on the same PM2.5 studies. Again the EPA was defiant. Administrator Gina McCarthy refused requests for the data sets and defied a congressional subpoena.
The EPA has form here. Its first administrator, William Ruckelshaus banned the use of DDT in the U.S. despite copious evidence that it was not harmful to human life. A seven month EPA hearing, presided over by Judge Edmund Sweeney, concluded in a 9,000 page document:
“DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man…DDT is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man…The use of DDT under the regulations involved here do not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds or other wildlife.”
Ruckelshaus simply ignored it because it did not suit the result he wanted.
Needless to say, the environmentalists are furious that the EPA now has to stick to science rather than political activism.
The New York Times has billed it as “an attack on science” – as if, somehow, scientific experiments conducted in secret for political ends are somehow more representative of “science” than experiments which are both open and independently reproducible.
Milloy, who has followed this scandal more closely than any journalist, has had great fun parsing the more absurd claims made by the NYT.
His comments on the article (in bold) can be found at his Junk Science website:
Under the proposed policy, the agency would no longer consider scientific research unless the underlying raw data can be made public for other scientists and industry groups to examine. As a result, regulators crafting future rules would quite likely find themselves restricted from using some of the most consequential environmental research of recent decades, such as studies linking air pollution to premature deaths or work that measures human exposure to pesticides and other chemicals. [If you read my book “Scare Pollution,” you cannot escape reaching the conclusion that the “studies linking air pollution to premature death” are not science, but fraud. After all, what reputable scientist would hide their data from public scrutiny for 20+ years? Only frauds do that. The NYTimes has elevated this fraud to the status of “research” when it has never been fairly reviewed or replicated.]
Opponents and supporters agree that the proposed new policy has its roots in the fossil fuel industry’s opposition to a groundbreaking 1993 Harvard University study that definitively linked polluted air to premature deaths. [“Definitively”? Really? Total ignorance on the part of the NYTimes or just, gotta keep that narrative going.] The “Six Cities” study, widely considered one of the most influential public health examinations ever conducted, tracked thousands of people for nearly two decades and ultimately formed the backbone of federal air pollution regulations. [The Six City Study is and always has been total fraud. That’s why the Harvard researchers been hiding their data for 24 years. It has two types of defenders — the ignornant and the lying.]
In that study, which began in the mid-1970s, scientists signed confidentiality agreements so they could track the private medical and occupational histories of more than 22,000 individuals in six cities around the country. They combined that personal data with home air-quality data in order to study the link between chronic exposure to air pollution and mortality. [Half of this study population were smokers or former smokers and virtually all were exposed to secondhand smoke. The exposure to PM2.5 from tobacco smoke far outweighs (by orders of magnitude) and PM2.5 in the outdoor air. Once again, no one cares about their personal information.]
Never mind the leftist #fakenews spin, though. For the moment – possibly for the first time since the organization was founded by Richard Nixon – genuine, reproducible science reigns at the EPA.
On energy and the environment, thanks to able administrators like Scott Pruitt, President Trump is most definitely #winning.
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