In league with junk science

By Steve Milloy

The League of Women Voters is attacking Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in a TV ad accusing him of siding with “polluters” over “people.” A closer look at the facts, however, reveals that it’s the LWV that’s fouling the air.

Ostensibly angered by Brown’s early-April vote to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s self-proclaimed and controversial authority to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs), the LWV is spending more than one million dollars running a TV ad in Massachusetts claiming Sen. Brown “voted to eliminate clean air standards that reduce smokestack and tailpipe emissions.”

The ad asks viewers to imagine what such a rollback would mean to a pictured toddler girl breathing through an oxygen tube.

But Brown’s vote had nothing to do with any sort of pollution that could possibly affect any child’s health.

In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA may (as opposed to “must”) regulate GHG emissions based on the hypothesis of manmade global warming. The Bush administration, however, opted not to regulate.

With the 2009 advent of a near-filibuster proof Democrat-controlled Congress and the Obama administration, cap-and-trade looked like a foregone conclusion. Nevertheless to goose the process along, the Obama EPA set up a regulatory sword of Damocles for Congress and industry — that is, if cap-and-trade wasn’t enacted, then the Obama EPA would use its Supreme Court authority to regulate.

But Congress’ stomach for cap-and-trade faded by mid-2009. So that December, the Obama EPA decided to regulate GHGs on its own — a controversial, if not illegal move now in litigation.

Since Republicans took control of the House in January, a flurry of bills to block EPA’s GHG regulations have been offered, and one has passed the House. The So-called Inhofe-Upton bill would block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources like power plants (but not cars). A Senate version of that bill is what Brown voted for as well as another piece of legislation that would have only blocked the EPA regulations for two years.

But the passage of neither bill would affect air quality in Massachusetts – which is already safe according to EPA standards, in the first place.

Moreover, greenhouse gases are colorless, odorless and tasteless. While their contribution to climate change has been the subject of much controversy, they do not directly cause any adverse health impacts whatsoever — not asthma nor wheezing, and no acute or chronic pulmonary or cardiovascular disease.

While the above facts cannot be denied, the LWV would no doubt respond by asserting that reducing greenhouse gas emissions would necessarily result in a curtailment of fossil fuel use and a corresponding reduction in other power plant emissions like particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

But given that these pollutants are already so strictly controlled that Massachusetts’ air is entirely safe and not known to be causing any health problems whatsoever, the LWV’s melodramatic attack against Sen. Brown is off base and off-putting.

Clean air is a fact across the vast majority of the country as demonstrated in our recent report “EPA’s Clean Air Act: Pretending air pollution is worse than it is.”

Sadly groups like the LWV are now exploiting public ignorance of these facts in order to advance a social and political agenda that has nothing to with protecting the environment or public health. The highly politicized American Lung Association, for example, has received $20 million from the EPA over the last ten years and has been attacking politicians who have had the courage to stand up to the EPA’s regulatory excesses.

These politicians, like Sen. Brown, ought to be hailed not assailed for their courage.

Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Rengery 2009).