EPA chief’s toxic emissions

By Steve Milloy
November 2, 2011, Washington Times

It is time for Lisa P. Jackson to resign.

Last Friday at Howard University, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) railed against the coal industry, saying, “In [the coal industry’s] entire history – 50, 60, 70 years or even 30 – they never found the time or the reason to clean up their act. They’re literally on life support. And the people keeping them on life support are all of us.”

This is patently false, of course, as emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants are quite heavily regulated. Those emissions controls are the reason U.S. air is clean and safe and why, say, the air in regulation-free China is not.

As West Virginia’s Republican Rep. David B. McKinley pointed out, to the extent that the coal industry is “on life support,” it is Ms. Jackson’s EPA and the rest of the Obama administration that has put it there with a slew of proposed and finalized anti-coal regulations.

A week before, Ms. Jackson appeared on “Real Time With Bill Maher,” where she said, “We’re actually at the point in many areas of this country where, on a hot summer day, the best advice we can give you is don’t go outside. Don’t breathe the air, it might kill you.”

But there is no scientific or medical evidence to support this statement — not now or even when the EPA was organized and the Clean Air Act was amended to its current form in 1970.

Akin to shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater, her inflammatory rhetoric actually serves to undermine all the efforts put forth and money spent by government and industry to clean the air the past 40 years.

In an Oct. 21 Los Angeles Times op-ed, Ms. Jackson essentially accused congressional Republicans of attempting to kill Americans.

“Since the beginning of this year, Republicans in the House have averaged roughly a vote every day the chamber has been in session to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency and our nation’s environmental laws. … How we respond to this assault on our environmental and public health protections will mean the difference between sickness and health – in some cases, life and death — for hundreds of thousands of citizens.”

But the bills the House GOP has passed would do nothing more than delay a few proposed and recently issued EPA regulations pending a cost-benefit analysis, including input from other federal agencies. Long-standing, pre-Obama administration emissions standards would remain in effect without any changes.

An Oct. 16 USA Today op-ed co-signed with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated, “There shouldn’t be a single neighborhood where parents have to worry about letting their kids play outside for fear they might get sick. Yet today, one in every 12 Americans — and one in 10 children — suffers from asthma, which is worsened by air pollution.”

The good news is that there aren’t such neighborhoods. In fact, there is no American adult or child whose health is compromised by ambient air quality. Yet reality doesn’t temper Ms. Jackson’s vitriol.

At a September House hearing, Ms. Jackson told Rep. Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts Democrat, “[Airborne] particulate matter causes premature death. It doesn’t make you sick. It’s directly causal to dying sooner than you should.”

And how many people does Ms. Jackson claim suffer avoidable deaths from particulate matter? She told Mr. Markey, “If we could reduce particulate matter to healthy levels, it would have the same impact as finding a cure for cancer in our country.”

But last year, about 570,000 people died from cancer amid a death toll of about 2.2 million. So Ms. Jackson is misleading Congress into thinking that 25 percent of deaths in America are caused by air pollution. The real toll from ambient air, however, is zero – and there is no scientific or medical evidence to the contrary.

All this shrillness is a sign that Ms. Jackson is feeling tremendous political pressure from her efforts to use junk science to shut down the American economy.

She has overreacted by borrowing from the playbook of Clinton EPA administrator and former Obama environment and energy czar Carol M. Browner, who ran roughshod not only over congressional Republicans but also over Al Gore in ramming through costly air-pollution regulations in 1997.

Whatever the reason, however, Ms. Jackson’s nonsensical Earth First!-like scaremongering is hardly befitting of a responsible senior government official who is in charge of a supposedly independent agency that regulates much of the nation’s economy.

Ms. Jackson wants to be unaccountable for her actions and is trying to intimidate her critics into silence and resignation with flagrant falsehoods.

An EPA administrator whose rhetoric is as apocalyptic as that of the most strident environmental extremists – and whose agenda matches – isn’t serving the public. At a time when it is more important than ever to avoid damaging the economy, Ms. Jackson’s actions prove she isn’t fit to serve.

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” (Regnery, 2009).

17 thoughts on “EPA chief’s toxic emissions”

  1. They are using OSHA too, the over reach of this administration extends to each and every ‘regulatory’ agency out there. Obama’s OSHA has attempted to use regulation to shut down oil drilling, fire arm sales, and a host of others. They are thinking outside the box to find ways to accomplish their socialist agenda ‘under the radar’. Keep your eyes open. If it was not all so horrific you might admire them.

  2. Very well, I’ll do my rebutal publically
    (-1) You claim lies, yet the actual scientific literature is lacking. While Mr. Milloy quite often goes farther than I like (eliminating the EPA is foolish, reducing them to a scale that is appropriate to their mission, reducing pollution below the NAAQs limits), on this matter, he is entirely correct. EPA officials have committed perjury before congress to support their agenda. The TCEQ put an announcement saying as much on a public web site.
    (0) You claim that there is dangerous pollution. However, the one reference you posted was about climate change.
    (.1) If you cannot deal with rhetoric, please leave. Nitpicking posts is not very good etiquette.
    (1) I have never seen a good application of a no-threshold model. The discovery of radiation hormesis effective nullified this model in its oldest use, so you need to justify using it anywhere else when thresholds have been proven to exist. If such a justification exists for ozone, I have never seen it.
    (2) I didn’t make up numbers. Well, not completely. $10 billion is the estimated annual cost of compliance with the Cross-state pollution rule. I chose half of your total pollution deaths as an estimate saved. This is ludicrously in your favor because there is no way that half of all deaths caused by this horrid pollution will be stopped by a single rule. I actually reduced it from my initial draft because it sounded like I was being ridiculous.

    I’m sorry if I don’t reference everything, but I responded like to like, and much more politely than your accusations, which are entirely out of line. Have you ever read “Not Evil, Just Wrong”? I’d suggest it. Or almost as good, just contemplate on the title and then go chat with the philosophy department for a while while you think about things. I was in college not too long ago, and I remember what it was like knowing everything. Fortunately, I was an engineer, and they kicked into our heads how stupid we were. Overconfidence in lab causes embarrassment. overconfidence in a plant causes death.

  3. Ben,

    My issue is with Steve Milloy. I want him and his readers to know that his dangerous lies aren’t going unnoticed.

    I’ll respond to your comments anyway:

    (0) Unfortunately for you, me, your daughter, my family and all people, no amount of education will protect any of us from damaging effects of air pollution (unlike many kinds of pollution which are geographically confined and therefore usually harm the poorest communities). Regardless, examples of the EPA’s alleged vindictiveness are missing from your argument.

    (0.1) I never said “everyone is dying from pollution”.

    (1) Linear, no-threshold models are appropriate at some times and inappropriate at others. There are hundreds of peer-reviewed epidemiological studies to back that up.

    (2) You can’t use numbers out of context to make a point. You need to use the well-honed tools of statistics and epidemiology. Your argument is literally meaningless.

    (3) We can both agree that it is ridiculous to spend $1 billion to save one person’s life, and that it is similarly ridiculous not to spend $1 if that would save one person’s life. Everything in the middle is a negotiation. You made up those numbers to prove a point on which we all agree.

    I’m getting off of this website now. If you have anything else you want to say to me, you can look up my email address.

    Steve, I welcome your comments to my personal email address as well. And if your ever in the San Francisco bay area I’d love to take you out to dinner and let you try to convince me that you, Steve Milloy, aren’t essentially responsible for the premature deaths of other human beings. To reiterate, my argument for your guilt is that I believe you (1) use blatant lies to influence voters to (2) elect politicians who (3) enact legislation that (4) is toxic to people and protects your wealth (through your connections to the oil and tobacco industry).

  4. I’ll qualify that a little more: That person cannot be a coal miner or a victim of a chemical release or tragic super-pollution event.

    People tend to forget that we have extensive medical literature on the effects of heavy particulate pollution. It’s called black lung. We also have extensive medical literature on the effects of continuous exposure to toxic smoke. It’s filed under tobacco.

    What we do not have is any evidence that shows health effects at low levels of atmospheric pollutants below (or even approaching) the NAAQS. That’s why they put the NAAQS where they did.

    Finally, even accepting the 20,000 per year number with all its faults, we still are right to be upset with Jackson because she claimed that pollution killed as many people as cancer, which would be over 500,000 per year. That kind of misinformation completely changes priorities.

  5. Zoey, the EPA has been known to be vindictive. For many of us, especially the most knowledgeable who are actively involved in environmental compliance, putting our last names to things is both unwise in future dealings with the agencies and it can endanger our livelihoods. Sorry, I’m not risking my daughter’s education to prove myself worthy to engage in an online debate

    Please let us deal with the facts at hand. There are three main problems with the “everyone’s dying from pollution” issue.
    1: Linear-No-Threshold models are worse than useless and have been completely debunked. This undermines all the low-pollution death estimates.

    2: Reliance on null or near-null studies to show effects of pollution. A 1% reduction in one measure of lung function between 0 ppb ozone and 60 ppb ozone is a conclusive result. Conclusive that there is no major consequence of 60 ppb ozone. Oddly, the EPA drew the wrong conclusion from this study.

    3: Opportunity costs – if you save 10,000 lives with pollution controls by spending 10 billion, you have spent over ten million per life. You could get 100 to 1000 times the bang for your buck by distributing vaccines, insect controls, and sanitation measures for the third world.

  6. Lisa Jackson like John Holdren et al, are religious believers in NONSENSE.

    She is totally unqualified to run any agency. She should be banished back to the street corners carrying a signboard proclaiming the End of the World at 3PM ! Repent Sinners !! That is where Obama found the trollop and to whence she needs to return with all her fellow crack pots and crack heads.

  7. Steve: (1) If you don’t like the way the National Academy of Science compiles literature to make recommendations, you should use your excellent credentials to work for them and create science that you believe in. And your right, that was an economically-focused report. From a more medical perspective, here is the first peer-reviewed article I found in a quick search:

    The New England Journal of Medicine, 1993, volume 329, pages 1753-1759. “After adjusting for smoking and other risk factors, we observed statistically significant and robust associations between air pollution and mortality.” That article has been cited 1,423 times.

    (2) The article you wrote about children is not logical. You chose one specific example. There are hundreds of examples in the peer-reviewed literature that point to the opposite conclusion.

    John: (1) Please provide your last name and affiliation. If you want to have a real conversation, at least be as open as Steve who is willing to admit that his much of his personal income comes from the oil and tobacco industry. (2) Statistical analyses rely on assumptions. Uncertainty is an inherent part of all science. If you had the black plague and coughed in my face and subsequently I died, by your logic I would still not be a “body”. By your logic there is literally no way to evaluate health and environmental consequences of any independent variable.

    Regarding affiliation, I can openly say that I am a graduate student in chemistry. I have nothing to gain from this conversation. My hope is to potentially convince some of your readers that you are lying to them on purpose, presumably to make money.

  8. Zoey,
    Did you actually read the report? All you really need to read is the conclusions section. In it, it says that the data presented is based on assumptions that have significant uncertainty surrounding them and that the reader should take caution in not over-interpreting the outcomes.
    In short, those 20,000 deaths are ASSUMED to be caused by air pollution in the future (the study looks at 3 time frames, all in the future assuming climate change is causing our problems). There is no evidence of actual causation in the study presented. I’m with Steve – show me a body, an actual person who died as a direct result of air polution.

  9. I learned by being an informed citizen and reading science published by the National Academy of Science.

    Your comment and your other article do not address my criticism of your argument, which is that the NAS has shown that air pollution causes death.

    Please think of the vulnerable populations, specifically children, who your words are directly harming.

  10. Steve,

    You lied when you said that there is no scientific evidence regarding air pollution and death. 20,000 people die in the US annually from air pollution-related disease according to the National Academy of Science. (http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12794)

    Your lies influence voters, who then elect representatives who enact toxic legislation.

    You, Steve Milloy, have blood on your hands.

  11. Careful on the hyperbole, there. The Greenhouse gas effect is basic optical theory and I do not understand how you are saying that it doesn’t exist. It most certainly does, which is why we aren’t a giant snowball. Disputing the magnitude of the changes wrought by chanigng greenouse gases is a completely different matter.

  12. As there is no “creditable experiment that proves that the “greenhouse gas effect” exists.In fact there are experiments by R.W.Wood a Professor of Physics and Optics at John Hopkins University that was peer reviewed that the “ghg effect” does not exist. This was in 1909 and has been reconfirmed by Dr. Nasif Nahle ,July, 2011. (see http://www.Great Climate Clash.com)
    Lisa Jackson’s nose is so long that it hits the ground 10 feet from her. She is so wrong about the environment that I’d bet her degree came from a Cracker Jack Box. No creditable University would give her a degree. She is a fraud and should be tried for Treason.

  13. Get rid of the EPA. We have OSHA for workplace hazards, and we have (unfortunately) Kathleen Sebelius, at HHS for all other hazards. We do not need the massive cost of the EPA, OR their bought off by pharma and Obama’s greenie friends to lobby for anti business legislation.

  14. If you want to fundamentally change the American way of life, this is part of the blue print. Destroy the capitalist market system, blaming the capitalist market system for the failure is a terrific way to accomplish said destruction. Are we surprised?

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