The Alarmist Presidency

There’s a school of thought among conservatives and libertarians that liberals knowingly seed and fertilize phony crises in order to cultivate even more big government. While I don’t wholly discount that point of view, I think the sky-is-falling mentality that permeates the Obama administration’s approach to environmental issues is more the result of living within the liberal echo chamber for so long.

Environmentalists and their Democrat allies spent eight years screaming that the Bush administration and corporate America were destroying the environment and putting our lives at risk. Having been handed the keys of state, Obama naturally embraces those voices that offer “solutions” to a problem that never actually existed. Democrats being Democrats, those solutions naturally involve benevolent government intervention.

It’s a chicken and egg argument in any case. Does the liberal desire for socialism consciously create phony problems, or does it merely exploit crackpot ideas that fit in with the program? Either way, this administration hasn’t yet met an environmental “crisis” it isn’t willing to address by rolling up its sleeves and getting down to the dirty work of drawing up more rules that will protect the ignorant masses who have been exploited by big businesses for so long. The latest example of this phenomenon is a report from the President’s Cancer Panel which attributes cancer to the supposed poisoning of America. Entitled “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now,” the report was prepared by a couple of academics: LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr., M.D. of the Howard University College of Medicine and Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D. of the University of Texas. A couple of paragraphs from the letter that accompanies the report, signed by Leffall and Kripke, gives you the flavor:

“The Panel was particularly concerned to find that the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated. With nearly 80,000 chemicals on the market in the United States, many of which are used by millions of Americans in their daily lives and are un- or understudied and largely unregulated, exposure to potential environmental carcinogens is widespread. One such ubiquitous chemical, bisphenol A (BPA), is still found in many consumer products and remains unregulated in the United States, despite the growing link between BPA and several diseases, including various cancers.

Environmental exposures that increase the national cancer burden do not represent a new front in the ongoing war on cancer. However, the grievous harm from this group of carcinogens has not been addressed adequately by the National Cancer Program. The American people—even before they are born—are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures. The Panel urges you most strongly to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our Nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives.”

When somebody trots out bisphenol A as their showpiece problem, what follows isn’t going to be pretty. The evidence linking BPA to adverse health effects of any kind is remarkably weak, much less to cancer. But this is a chemophobic administration and Leffall and Kripke dutifully deliver a report that raises chemophobia to new heights. The report was so hysterical and full of unsubstantiated conjecture that even the American Cancer Society rolled their eyes. Consider this from a New York Times’ piece that was surprisingly critical of the Cancer Panel’s report:

“Dr. Michael Thun, an epidemiologist from the cancer society, said in an online statement that the report was “unbalanced by its implication that pollution is the major cause of cancer,” and had presented an unproven theory — that environmentally caused cases are grossly underestimated — as if it were a fact.”

Leffall and Kripke’s underlying assumption – that the 80,000 chemicals in use in America are “unregulated or virtually unregulated” – is utter nonsense. Every chemical is evaluated by the EPA as part of the Agency’s obligations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in order to determine if the chemical presents a possible threat to the environment or human health. If the Agency determines that there is a potential problem, it is charged with regulating said chemical appropriately. Further, the vast majority of those 80,000 chemicals are used in small quantities and could not therefore effect the environment on a macroscopic scale in any case. The EPA goes beyond the requirements of TSCA when it comes to the 3,000 or so chemicals that are used in large quantities. The Agency has gathered and continues to gather even more information on the health and safety effects under its “High Production Volume” chemicals program.

Beyond that, we have EPA rules covering chemical discharges to the air, to surface water, to ground water and in the soil. We’ve got OSHA, NIOSH and the American Conference of Governmental and Industrial Hygienists, all of whom spend a great deal of time looking at the effects of chemicals on human health and environment. Rather than proposing new studies, new restrictions and new regulations, Leffall and Kripke would do better to propose a study that would study the huge pile of studies we already have. That would serve the dual purposes of keeping academics happily engaged in a pointless task, and allowing the rest of us could to avoid further benevolence from Big Brother.

We haven’t even gotten to cap and trade yet and already Obama’s EPA is working up the most restrictive air quality standards in history, creating new ways to regulate vast swaths of oceans, pushing for sweeping new stormwater regulations and now this. A rational president would take one look at the President’s Cancer Report and quietly deposit it in the circular file. But Barack Obama? This kind of hysterical alarmism is just the kind of excuse this president needs to regulate, well – everything.

  • JC

    The government wants to regulate (and/or tax) everything we eat, breathe, and do, but has no problem with installing a health care program that will eventually (and stealthily) promote death for old people and those who are less healthy. If that were not enough, there's always a war somewhere. Why do men (in particular) create circumstances for war? The history of the human race is filled with war. But silly environmentalists continue to promote ridiculous ideas under the auspices of saving "American lives". Why can't they and Obama tell the truth about all of it? It's about gaining POWER over the little people and redistributing wealth – nothing else.

    • Jim C.

      "a health care program that will eventually (and stealthily) promote death for old people and those who are less healthy"

      Check the list of countries according to life expectancy. What kind of medical system do they have? And why aren't we anywhere near the top?

      • Dennis X

        Excellent information, the us is ranked 34th. the richest counrty in the world, 34th.

        • JohnC

          I don't know what the source of your ranking is, however, I have a little experience with these rankings and very few of these rankings rarely compare apples to apples. For instance, there are many countries that don't count a baby who dies shortly after birth as an infant death and thus, their infant mortality statistics appear better than Americas.. Well, here in America we do count these deaths in our infant mortality statistics. And Dennis, this is just one statistic that is manipulated by countries to give their healthcare a better ranking than ours. So, don't believe every ranking you read unless you are very familiar with the methodology of the study.

      • gailhap

        Um. We don't fudge our stats the way lots of other countries do, especially where infant mortality is concerned and that brings everything else down.

        • Jim C.

          Yeah, that must be it.

          • gailhap

            The biggest discrepancy is caused by the differing standards for live birth. We count preemies, whereas lots of countries don't. Also when you consider how much better the diet and exercise regimens are for countries like Sweden, for instance, our medical profession is definitely swimming upstream.

  • Jim C.

    "Either way, this administration hasn’t yet met an environmental “crisis” it isn’t willing to address by rolling up its sleeves and getting down to the dirty work of drawing up more rules that will protect the ignorant masses who have been exploited by big businesses for so long"

    HILARIOUS! What do you think is going on in the gulf right now? A natural disaster? And you actually put scare quotes around "crisis?" Wow.

    Who edits this stuff?!

  • poptoy

    Very good adjective attached to this article. You should have chosen some additional adjectives to go along with it like stupid, Marxist, and arrogant.

  • Patriot

    Obama is really ALIEN evidence right here: also video proving he is an alien:… I fear Obama in going to first become American President than World President followed by UNIVERSE PRESIDENT. There are so many signs that ALL AMERICANS should know, but the liberal loving media doesn’t want us seeing. At first I thought I was being illogical saying “How could anyone ever become world president” than there was your article. I applaud your courage speaking the truth that so many people want censored. In your next article could you tell me how he will become president of 192 countries across the world with complex political systems, and how he is just trying to appear like he can’t even convince one country healthcare reform is a good idea despite it being in every other industrialized nation. Once again you are a true patriot keep the fight up.

  • benya

    When pharmaceuticals start showing up in the water supply – which our treatment plants cannot easily remove (mmm – great to drink that), and fish and frogs are born with both male and female reproductive parts, all it makes me think is "Gee – let's have less regulation." Although EPA does have rules relating to chemical use and testing, there is little if any analysis of the combined effects of these chemicals mixed together. More than half the assessed rivers in the country are impaired — not able to support fishing, swimming, etc. So, let's go ahead and make it worse.

  • badaboo

    …and lets see how many jobs and industries are gonna get wiped out due to this spill , which in fact was caused by , lax regulation and little or no enforcement .. Perhaps Rich can illuminate us all on WHY the blowout valve didn't work on the BP rigg , and WHY the FAILED test , just hours prior to the blowout were ignored ?

  • badaboo

    Hey BP saved alot of money by shirking its duties and responsibilities , you know Rich , that's your expertise right ? They probably had a guy like you advising them huh ?

  • badaboo

    yea , just imagine the nerve of those lefty tree huggers , insisting on blow-out valves THAT WORK , and REGULAR TESTING …..this mess oughta show'em huh Rich , those doggone "alarmists" !!!

  • badaboo

    REGULATION COSTS JOBS ….right Rich ? Unfortunately this spill should take care of alot of jobs and industries for quite some time ….but look on the bright side , BP saved all thosed annoying costs of testing their safeguards .
    This oughta do wonders for their bottom line !

  • badaboo

    HEY RICH TRZUPEK , before you go calling ANYONE alarmists , take a look at tonights 60 minutes interview with some REAL SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS regarding the BP Blowout .
    Then think seriously about being an editorialist and "expert " on another subject .

    [ who needs regulations ? huh Rich ? ]