Latest posts by Joe Bast, Jay Lehr and Mike Gemmell (see all)
- An Open Letter to the Oil and Gas Industry: The Ethical Case for Fracking - December 11, 2011
- Revisiting the History of the Clean Air Act, and How to Reform it for the Future - November 9, 2010
- It's Time to Sunset the EPA - October 15, 2010
In August 2010, Lisa Jackson, executive director of the EPA, delivered a speech commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Clean Air Act (CAA), crediting it with vastly improving air quality in the U.S., and claiming that its existence had:
· adding “trillions of dollars in health benefits for our nation;”
· creating millions of jobs;
· had a significant positive impact on our Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
A report card to be proud of…. if only it were true. Looking at actual facts, however, we see a very different story.
One of the benefits of the CAA that Jackson touts is on asthma, claiming her own son’s asthma was improved. However, she neglected to explain how it was that while air quality was undergoing significant improvement during the 1980s and 1990s, chronic bronchitis and asthma cases were on the rise. She also touted the “Green” job creation spawned by the CAA while overlooking the decimation of industries such as iron and steel, paper, automobile manufacturing, and printing, each of which employ less than half the people they did prior to the implementation of the Clean Air Act.
Ms. Jackson unwittingly hints at the truth when she presents her proposed five-point program for increasing EPA’s control of industrial emissions by conceding: “True to form, the lobbyists have recycled their old predictions of job less and economic catastrophe….”
Although Miss Jackson’s speech is loaded with misinformation, disinformation, and outright propaganda, she does at least realize there are people in the U.S. that see the EPA as part of the problem, rather than the solution, including the authors of this essay. This essay will dissect Ms. Jackson’s speech, and exposes the fallacies and anti-scientific methodologies driving the encroachment of the CAA’s tentacles into almost every industry in the U.S. In the process, we will present a plan for challenging the destructive aspects of the CAA — using Ms. Jackson’s own five-point plan.
Some Pertinent Environmental History
The Clean Air Act, as well as the vast majority of environmental legislation, has been spawned by the misperception that industrial activity has been threatening “the planet.” This gross misperception was put forth in spectacular fashion by Rachel Carson in Silent Spring (1962). The publishing of that book initiated the environmental movement with its incessant claims of impending doom from industrial civilization. However, Carson’s claims of pending apocalypse could not have spread as widely, or as quickly, as they did without the support mechanism of grant-funded science. In “Science after Climategate: Recovering the Loss of Scientific Credibility” (listen to the speech here) we described the mechanism that led to a takeover of environmental regulatory agencies by an anti-industrial bias, a bias that was instrumental in establishing the development of arbitrary air quality and other toxicity standards. That mechanism consists of the following four steps:
· Declare an interest to be in the public interest.
· Defining the issue vaguely or with arbitrary definitions.
· Limit the number of people / viewpoints to manipulate the decision-making process, and
· Due to the impossibility of objectively assessing costs vs. benefits, establish an authoritarian establishment to address the interest.
The grant-funding mechanism was crucial to suppressing important developments in epidemiology that could have put a halt to the bad science fueling EPA policies behind the Clean Air Act. In her seminal work, The Apocalyptics, 1984, Edith Efron documented important insights in epidemiology being uncovered in the late 1960s such as the conference in Israel (1968) where Isaac Berenblum stated: Many of the “cherished beliefs” would require “drastic revision” including the idea that “the old belief that cancer is predominantly a disease of economically advanced countries.”
Numerous studies were showing high rates of cancer in undeveloped countries leading epidemiologists such as John Higginson to realize that a large range of cancers were not a result of factors passed by hereditary, but rather were being caused by “environmental” factors, by which he meant: geography, dietary and consumption habits, etc.. In one of the great tragedies of the 20th century, just as epidemiology was making an important breakthrough in understanding cancer, Rachel Carson’s unproven and poisonous ideas concerning the development of cancer were being spread via the National Cancer Institute, The Club of Rome, and other bodies. Carson’s apocalyptic claims were put into policy by her promoters by providing publicly funded grants to those who fell in line with her scientific paradigm, and denying funds to those that did not conform with it. This essentially put John Higginson, one of the great epidemiologists of his day, into scientific exile, and allowed the EPA and other regulatory agencies to perpetuate the falsehood that industrial chemicals were drowning us in cancer, and threatening the “planet.”
Today, we are still living today with the fallout of the hijacking of the meaning of the term “environmental”, and as a result are witnessing the incredible scenario of scientists trying to satisfy unchallengeable paradigms in cancer research and thereby producing vast numbers of studies that cannot be replicated. Nevertheless, by substituting statistical machinations for actual understanding of cause and effect mechanisms, these studies are being treated as if they have some sort of scientific significance, when the inability to be replicated is a clear indication that the research is meaningless. This reality also explains why many scientists caught on this merry go round are extremely hesitant to release their data and data protocols at the time of publication. To put it bluntly: a scientific study that cannot be replicated, may be many things, but it is not science. (For an eye-opening view at the travesty of what is passing for grant-funded science these days see: Why Most Published Research Findings are False, John Ioannidis, 2005, PLOS Medicine)
These developments in the field of epidemiology infected the thinking of federal regulatory agencies in the 1960s and 1970s, and gave the EPA a mechanism to perpetrate the belief that regulation of constituents in the air was needed, when in fact, measured constituents in the air had been falling for decades prior to the Clean Air Act being enacted. In effect, the Clean Air Act was 50 years too late to have any positive effect on air quality in regions of the U.S. that might have actually benefited from regulation of industrial emissions (No Way Back: Why Air Pollution Will Continue to Decline, 2003, by Joel Schwartz, and Air Quality in America, 2007, by Joel Schwartz and Steven Hayward.)
Promulgating Bad Scientific Standards Due to the Takeover of Federal Regulatory Bodies
As a result of corrupt methods and unchallengeable paradigms being used to consistently ratchet down on air quality standards, we have — contrary to Jackson’s claims of the CAA creating “$40 of benefits” for every dollar spent — decimation of entire industries strongly impacted by CAA air regulations:
- Iron and steel industry employment = (1970) 627,000; (1990) 276,200; (2009) 91,200
- automobile manufacturing employment = (1970) 799,000; (1990) 812,000; (2009) 321,900
- paper industry employment = (1970) 700,000; (1990) 696,000; (2009) 418,000
- Printing industry employment = (1970) 1,104,000; (1990) 1,569,000; (2009) 522,200
(Numbers above from R. Trzupek)
(Note: The worst impacts on employment occurred after 1990 when the CAA regulations were made much more stringent.)
An Approach to Challenging Future expansions of the CAA and Begin Exposing the Fallacies Fueling its Existence
In her speech, Jackson makes clear her intent to regulate greenhouse emissions using the CAA and the 2007 Supreme Court decision upholding its legitimacy for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. In so doing, she blissfully ignored the Climategate scandal, and other ample evidence that the theory of human-induced global warming is intellectually bankrupt. It is not a coincidence that the scandal of Climategate centers around the fact that the scientists at East Anglia University, got caught adamantly refusing to relinquish their data and protocols. If their research was so wonderful, why not celebrate what led to those wonderful results with the rest of us?
Given the fact that the Obama administration will be losing control of the house to Republicans in 2011, and with it the probability of passing cap and trade legislation, the current administration will almost certainly be pushing their program for regulating greenhouse gases via EPA regulatory mandate, and Jackson in her speech cited the following 5 principles as her approach for expanding the air quality controls via CAA:
· “Promote commonsense strategies that encourage investment in energy efficiency and updated technologies.”
· Use “similar strategies to capture multiple pollutants.”
· “Set clear achievable standards while maintaining maximum flexibility on how to get there.”
· “Seek input from the citizens, industry, affected entities, other stakeholders….”
· “Set the standards that make the most sense – focusing on getting the most meaningful results through cost-effective measures.”
The EPA’s Achilles Heel
By presenting these 5 principles, Jackson has inadvertently revealed the EPA’s Achilles heel. It is this Achilles heel that will allow us to challenge EPA’s proposed program and expose the pseudo-science fueling the Clean Air Act.
Environmentalism has spread havoc across a wide swath of industries because it hides its true nature by being “for the planet” rather than calling itself “anti-industry.” We see this in statements by its leaders such as Rachel Carson:
” The road we have been traveling …. a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster…. The other fork … offers our last, only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of our earth. “
We can also observe it in the language of environmental law such as The Endangered Species Act:
“provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved….”
and finally the Clean Air Act:
“provide states with continued reasonable flexibility to fashion effective, reasonable, and fair programs for the affected consumer.
These sorts of statements are used to disguise the inherently destructive nature of environmental regulation. Jackson’s five points above are another example along this same theme. However, by challenging how the key terms are defined, we can reset the framework of the debate so that those of us who believe that industrialization and a quality environment, are achievable, and compatible, can begin to set the agenda rather than reacting to the agenda of the EPA. The key issue is to objectively define the key terms in use such as “maximum flexibility”, “achievable standards”, etc. By challenging and redefining, objectively, the key definitions, we can begin to reframe the debate, and move toward a reform program that uses free-market forces to encourage technological innovation to maintain clean air. In the process, we will be able to challenge the methods behind the science fueling CAA enforcement efforts, and expose its needlessly destructive history.