BOOK REVIEW: ‘Scare Pollution’ a Pulitzer Prize-worthy Piece of Investigative Journalism

From environmental expert and EPA pioneer Jay Lehr.

Buy “Scare Pollution” at

Scare Pollution’ a Pulitzer Prize-worthy Piece of Investigative Journalism

By Jay Lehr
June 16, 2017, Originally published at

In Scare Pollution, scientist and lawyer Steve Milloy, famous for his 20-year-old website Junk Science, has produced a most compelling, Pulitzer Prize-worthy piece of investigative journalism.

Most of the American public is unaware the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with the help of the American Lung Association and radical environmental groups, has nearly succeeded in an attempted takeover of absolutely all industry in the United States. How could EPA accomplish such a grand scheme? By claiming exposure to particles in the air as small as 2.5 millionths of a meter can cause death in a matter of minutes, hours, or days.

It is called the PM2.5 rule, and the best scientific research shows these particles are ubiquitous and, contrary to EPA’s claims, are harmless.

Agency Malfeasance

As Milloy explains in this powerful indictment of the agency’s acts of malfeasance, EPA initially promulgated the rule in July 1997 based on “secret science” it refused to divulge to Congress when the latter investigated the rule.

Exposing transcripts of congressional hearings and correspondence between EPA and Congress and between EPA and scientists hired to create results supporting EPA’s proposed restrictions, the book proves conclusively EPA and its associates committed a variety of crimes.

One example is the documented story of a 58-year-old woman with a variety of serious maladies whom EPA scientists purposely exposed to mega-doses of particulate matter to make her sick as part of the agency’s attempt to justify the need to regulate PM2.5. She was never properly informed of the type and dangers of the experiments.

EPA consistently hid results showing serious harm from PM2.5 is nonexistent. Although independent scientists have established there was no correlation between high episodes of PM2.5 in California valleys and increased mortality in large populations, EPA continues to insist their oppressive rule saves tens of thousands of lives annually.

The book reads like a mystery novel, packed with intrigue and evil, but it is all on the record, complete with the names of prominent people in government who colluded to allow EPA to continue what can only be called a criminal operation.

President Ronald Reagan enacted an executive order directing agencies not to take regulatory action unless the potential benefits to society outweigh its costs. President Bill Clinton softened the rule by stating benefits need only justify the costs. The more relaxed standard set EPA on a national witch hunt to control human life as we know it.

In May 2012, Milloy presented his evidence to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, chaired by University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann. Despite an EPA whistleblower backing Milloy’s evidence, the commission ignored his proof of wrongdoing.

An additional motive for Milloy’s expose of EPA’s unethical experiments is the fact he lost an uncle in a German concentration camp where deadly human experiments were conducted. A close reading of Milloy’s charges against EPA and their responses leaves little doubt EPA hoped people would die to prove the need for regulation.

My 40 years of experience with EPA indicate this claim is not as outrageous as it may seem. The irony, Milloy says, is “while the EPA relies on the PM2.5 epidemiology to impose expensive regulations on the economy, it simultaneously dismisses that very epidemiology in a court of law to justify its human experiments.”

Confounding Coal-Country Data

Milloy shows some of the most interesting evidence undermining EPA’s PM2.5 regulation is found in coal country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health studied 8,899 underground coal miners exposed to high levels of small particulate matter daily and reported the death rate for coal miners from cardiopulmonary diseases did not differ in a meaningful way from that of the average U.S. worker.

One of the most informative parts of Milloy’s book explains why businesses targeted by EPA’s corrupt practices do not complain more loudly and regularly than they currently do. Milloy says many companies are subjected to multiple areas of regulation, including air, waste, and water. They fear if they fight over an issue, even if they win, EPA regulators will penalize them in another area where an EPA permit is required. Irritate the EPA, and you risk the agency “venting its anger by delaying, denying, or otherwise sabotaging a permit,” writes Milloy.

Overhauling EPA

Scare Pollution’s final chapters outline the critical ways EPA should be overhauled, though in the end Milloy concludes, as I have, EPA should be dismantled and its responsibilities devolved to the states, where they belong.

Absent devolution, Milloy’s most important requirement is to end EPA’s practice of hiding its scientific data from the public. In fact, Milloy recommends EPA get out of the research business altogether. The agency funds only researchers it can count on to deliver the results it desires, he argues.

Finally, Milloy calls for requiring congressional approval of all major EPA rules under a principle of U.S. law called the non-delegation doctrine, which holds Congress cannot delegate its legislative powers to executive branch agencies.

This amazing book is a must-read, especially for new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who needs to fully comprehend the rogue nature of the agency he now leads.

2 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: ‘Scare Pollution’ a Pulitzer Prize-worthy Piece of Investigative Journalism”

  1. Steve,

    Just finished your book. Excellent.

    From what I have seen, it seems that PM2.5 definition and measurement methods are independent of the particle’s chemical composition. From a toxicology viewpoint, how can a particle of NaCl or CaSO4 from the evaporating of a cooling tower mist particle or an ocean surf particle have the same health impact and toxicology as a pyrolyzed hydrocarbon particle containing reactive and highly toxic organic chemicals?

    The whole biological mechanism chemistry doesn’t make sense. My PM2.5 at my surf city (Huntington Beach, Ca) home is not the same as diesel fumes or a flu virus particle (right size).

    I was talking with a scientist at the US park service who was going on about exceeding PM2.5 at Pt. Reyes National Seashore with a west wind off of the Pacific Ocean smelling like the ocean.

    As I believe rulers today, like yesterday, can be above the laws of man (they make them anyway, not the man in the street) so I am not surprised when bureaucrats make decisions in their favor. They are like any other institution, looking out for their self-interest (bureaucratic survival and growth).

    All their experiments that ignore the chemistry details of the particles are also meaningless. Exposing humans to concentrated, undefined PM2.5 of unknown chemistry, biology and surface properties will tell us nothing about mechanisms if we didn’t know what the particles were. It just makes another layer of junk science that won’t reproduce with another PM2.5 source.

    By the way, the high SO2 pollution causing mortality could possibly be explained by the fog and PM2.5 carrying the SO2 further into the lungs and depositing the dissolved sulfite H2SO3 (water added) in the liquid layer in the lungs where the sulfite reacts with O2 to become sulfate (H2SO4) that decreases the local alkalinity in that thin layer of liquid. Without carbonate alkalinity in that layer between the air and the blood, the mass transfer of CO2 drops dramatically and the people can die from CO2 toxicity. The level of 100 µg/M3 of SO2 could remove the carbonate alkalinity from a liter of body fluids coating the inside of your lungs an hour. With kidney problems, you couldn’t correct the alkalinity as fast and maintain the correct CO2 partial pressure in your blood and you can die.

    PS: I see the same junk science issues in different agencies. For example, the USFW did a “biological opinion” on the delta smelt that is the basis of billions of dollars worth of water in California. This report did correlations between the crash of the delta smelt and the water extractions looking at dozens of things that eat smelt (striped bass, salmon, etc.) or help smelt or kill smelt (pumping plants) over a time period of the 1960’s to present day. However, they left out of the analysis that fact that during this time period DDT was eliminated and the fish eating bird population went up by a factor of 10 (especially cormorants that feed on delta smelt size fish) while water extraction changed by about 20%. By leaving out the principal variable, they get the answer they wanted. How do you challenge a “missing variable” in a statistical analysis?

    I came across another one having to do with larval fish impacts from power plants where they (contractors who have build carriers and tenure on this stuff) built into the math model a known false assumption that could change the results by a factor of 10 to 100 or more in favor of larger calculated impacts. The regulators using that model, demand that model and it isn’t subject to challenge (it is policy). They won’t even publish it in the scientific literature where some peer reviewer may ask questions about a false assumption. I agree that a lot of peer review is friend review, but I don’t think I am considered a “friend” by most of the authors of papers I review.

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