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The EPA's Science Problem

Written by Arnold Ahlert

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In a stunning admission, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy revealed to House Science, Space 44and Technology Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) that the agency neither possesses, nor can produce, all of the scientific data used to justify the rules and regulations they have imposed on Americans via the Clean Air Act. In short, science has been trumped by the radical environmentalist agenda. 

The admission follows the issuance of a subpoena by the full Committee last August. It was engendered by two years of EPA stonewalling, apparently aimed at preventing the raw data cited by EPA as the scientific foundation for those rules and regulations from being independently verified. Two studies, the 1993 Harvard Six Cities Study (HSC) and the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) 1995 Cancer Prevention Study II, had verified that fine airborne particles measuring 2.5 micrograms or less were responsible for killing thousands of Americans every year. They became the baseline by which the EPA regulated particulate emissions from power plants, factories and cars. Airborne particles of that size are equivalent to approximately 1/30th the diameter of a human hair.

Apparently Smith and other Republicans had an inkling of what was going on at the EPA last November. At that time, Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) introduced the Secret Science Reform Act aimed at barring the agency from proposing new regulations based on science that was neither transparent nor reproducible. “Public policy should come from public data, not based on the whims of far-left environmental groups,” Schweikert said in a statement. “For far too long, the EPA has approved regulations that have placed a crippling financial burden on economic growth in this country with no public evidence to justify their actions.”

The bill was co-sponored by Smith, as well as fellow House Science Committee members Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) and Randy Neugebauer (R-TX). Smith echoed the concern expressed by Schweikert. “It appears the EPA bends the law and stretches the science to justify its own objectives,” he said. “The EPA must either make the data public, or commit to no longer using secret science to support its regulations.”

At that time, McCarthy was singing a different tune. She defended the EPA’s “high-quality science,” and referenced a report by the Office of Inspector General praising the EPA for its research. In testimony before the Committee, she insisted that science is the “backbone of the EPA’s decision-making.”

By February, the list of co-sponsors for Schweikert’s bill had reached about a dozen, prompting the inevitable pushback from Democrats and their media allies. The “climate denier” label, used by the left to cut off debate regarding whether or not climate change is man-made or a natural occurrence, was dutifully applied to environment subcommittee chairman Schweikert by the Huffington Post and Salon. When running for office in 2008, Schweikert offended the doyens of political correctness. “Understanding what part of climate change is part of a natural cycle and what part has human components is the first step,” he at the time. ”Our elected officials must be careful to react to facts and not folklore.”

Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) was similarly offended. “The bill attacks the mainstays of scientific investigation,” he wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. “It would strip away the EPA’s authority to make any rules due to the stringency of the data disclosure requirements. The peer review process is the foundation of science inquiry in our society, and is a trusted evaluation of scientific evidence around the world. This legislation attempts to dictate how the scientific method is employed. The Secret Science Reform Act is an attempt by climate change deniers to stop the EPA from doing its job.”

On March 7, such objections were revealed for the fraudulent nonsense they truly are. In a letter sent to Smith, McCarthy acknowledged that the Committee’s subpoena sought data from aforementioned studies, along with analyses and re-analyses of that data. After conducting a “diligent search” of the data in their own possession, the agency noted that it also conducted a search for additional data from outside sources, using the Shelby Amendment as the vehicle to obtain that information. They further acknowledged that they have not withheld any data relevant to the subpoena.

Then came the admission. “The EPA acknowledges, however, that the data provided are not sufficient in themselves to replicate the analyses in the epidemiological studies, nor would they allow for the one to one mapping of each pollutant and ecological variable to each subject.” Yet in the very next sentence, the agency remained utterly defiant. “For reasons explained in our previous letters on this topic, these acknowledgments do not call into question the EPA’s reliance on these studies for regulatory actions.”

Really? Why not? The scientific method is all about reproducing reliable data that can be independently verified. The EPA and their leftist allies are essentially saying “trust us,” even as they denigrate climate change skeptics for their failure to embrace “settled science.” Such overt hypocrisy would be laughable were it not for the reality that the EPA is moving forward with even more regulations that could place 90 percent of the American public in “non-attainment” areas. They are defined as areas “considered to have air quality worse than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards as defined in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970.” 

Moreover, there are studies that refute the data on which the EPA relies. “Airborne Fine Particulate Matter and Short-Term Mortality,” looked at virtually the entire state of California from 2007-2010. Its author, Johns Hopkins-trained biostatistician Steve Milloy, who posted its results on his junkscience.com website, revealed the fraud the EPA has been perpetrating for decades. “EPA says that when PM2.5 levels go up, people die every day,” he told CNSNews.com. “But if PM2.5 is killing people, my data would show it, especially in Los Angeles, which has some of the worst air quality in the U.S. Not only was there no relationship there, I found a negative correlation in the LA area….If a significant causal relationship between PM2.5 and mortality existed, that relationship should have been visible in this study. But it was not.” 

Milloy’s results were not anomalous. Another study, “Assessing Geographic Heterogeneity and Variable Importance in an Air Pollution Data Set,” authored by S. Stanley Young and Jessie Q. Xia of the National Institute of Statistical Sciences, was equally revealing. It contends that the “association between PM2.5 with mortality, when compared to the associations between other variables and mortality, shows that the importance of PM2.5 is relatively small.” Young and Xia conclude that the “data set does not support the claim that decreasing PM2.5 will increase longevity. If the cost of decreasing PM2.5 is high enough there could well be a net loss in longevity.” (italics mine)

In an equally damning revelation, they refute the level of importance placed on fine particulate matter per se, explaining that insufficient income, cigarette smoking and a lack of education are more influential on longevity. Thus they contend that “policymakers might better focus on improving the economy, reducing cigarette smoking, and encouraging people to pursue education.”

These studies underscore the need for the Secret Science Reform Act, aka, HR4012. It intends to prohibit the EPA from “proposing, finalizing or disseminating regulations based upon scientific information that is not publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent scientific analysis.” It would amend the Section 6 (b) of the Environmental Research, Development and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978 in the following manner: 

“The Administrator shall not propose, finalize, or disseminate a covered action unless all scientific and technical information relied on to support such covered action is (A) specifically identified; and (B) publicly available in a manner that is sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results.” 

That such eminently reasonable demands are necessary at all reveals the contemptible levels to which the EPA and the Obama administration will stoop to advance the radical environmentalist agenda. “As it stands now, only EPA-funded researchers do the work and review the work, and nobody gets to see the data,” explained Milloy. “These are very expensive regulations, and the alleged benefits are entirely based on this PM/death relationship.” It is a relationship revealed to be an utter fraud. It’s time for a thorough cleaning of the EPA itself. It has been polluted by a poisonous ideology for far too long.

Source: FrontPageMag

Arnold Ahlert is a former NY Post op-ed columnist currently contributing to JewishWorldReview.com, HumanEvents.com and CanadaFreePress.com. He may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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