The EPA’s Science Problem

44In a stunning admission, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy revealed to House Science, Space and Technology Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) that the agency neither possesses, nor can produce, all of the scientific data used to justify the rules and regulations they have imposed on Americans via the Clean Air Act. In short, science has been trumped by the radical environmentalist agenda. 

The admission follows the issuance of a subpoena by the full Committee last August. It was engendered by two years of EPA stonewalling, apparently aimed at preventing the raw data cited by EPA as the scientific foundation for those rules and regulations from being independently verified. Two studies, the 1993 Harvard Six Cities Study (HSC) and the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) 1995 Cancer Prevention Study II, had verified that fine airborne particles measuring 2.5 micrograms or less were responsible for killing thousands of Americans every year. They became the baseline by which the EPA regulated particulate emissions from power plants, factories and cars. Airborne particles of that size are equivalent to approximately 1/30th the diameter of a human hair.

Apparently Smith and other Republicans had an inkling of what was going on at the EPA last November. At that time, Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) introduced the Secret Science Reform Act aimed at barring the agency from proposing new regulations based on science that was neither transparent nor reproducible. “Public policy should come from public data, not based on the whims of far-left environmental groups,” Schweikert said in a statement. “For far too long, the EPA has approved regulations that have placed a crippling financial burden on economic growth in this country with no public evidence to justify their actions.”

The bill was co-sponored by Smith, as well as fellow House Science Committee members Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) and Randy Neugebauer (R-TX). Smith echoed the concern expressed by Schweikert. “It appears the EPA bends the law and stretches the science to justify its own objectives,” he said. “The EPA must either make the data public, or commit to no longer using secret science to support its regulations.”

At that time, McCarthy was singing a different tune. She defended the EPA’s “high-quality science,” and referenced a report by the Office of Inspector General praising the EPA for its research. In testimony before the Committee, she insisted that science is the “backbone of the EPA’s decision-making.”

By February, the list of co-sponsors for Schweikert’s bill had reached about a dozen, prompting the inevitable pushback from Democrats and their media allies. The “climate denier” label, used by the left to cut off debate regarding whether or not climate change is man-made or a natural occurrence, was dutifully applied to environment subcommittee chairman Schweikert by the Huffington Post and Salon. When running for office in 2008, Schweikert offended the doyens of political correctness. “Understanding what part of climate change is part of a natural cycle and what part has human components is the first step,” he at the time. “Our elected officials must be careful to react to facts and not folklore.”

Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) was similarly offended. “The bill attacks the mainstays of scientific investigation,” he wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. “It would strip away the EPA’s authority to make any rules due to the stringency of the data disclosure requirements. The peer review process is the foundation of science inquiry in our society, and is a trusted evaluation of scientific evidence around the world. This legislation attempts to dictate how the scientific method is employed. The Secret Science Reform Act is an attempt by climate change deniers to stop the EPA from doing its job.”

On March 7, such objections were revealed for the fraudulent nonsense they truly are. In a letter sent to Smith, McCarthy acknowledged that the Committee’s subpoena sought data from aforementioned studies, along with analyses and re-analyses of that data. After conducting a “diligent search” of the data in their own possession, the agency noted that it also conducted a search for additional data from outside sources, using the Shelby Amendment as the vehicle to obtain that information. They further acknowledged that they have not withheld any data relevant to the subpoena.

Then came the admission. “The EPA acknowledges, however, that the data provided are not sufficient in themselves to replicate the analyses in the epidemiological studies, nor would they allow for the one to one mapping of each pollutant and ecological variable to each subject.” Yet in the very next sentence, the agency remained utterly defiant. “For reasons explained in our previous letters on this topic, these acknowledgments do not call into question the EPA’s reliance on these studies for regulatory actions.”

Really? Why not? The scientific method is all about reproducing reliable data that can be independently verified. The EPA and their leftist allies are essentially saying “trust us,” even as they denigrate climate change skeptics for their failure to embrace “settled science.” Such overt hypocrisy would be laughable were it not for the reality that the EPA is moving forward with even more regulations that could place 90 percent of the American public in “non-attainment” areas. They are defined as areas “considered to have air quality worse than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards as defined in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970.” 

Moreover, there are studies that refute the data on which the EPA relies. “Airborne Fine Particulate Matter and Short-Term Mortality,” looked at virtually the entire state of California from 2007-2010. Its author, Johns Hopkins-trained biostatistician Steve Milloy, who posted its results on his junkscience.com website, revealed the fraud the EPA has been perpetrating for decades. “EPA says that when PM2.5 levels go up, people die every day,” he told CNSNews.com. “But if PM2.5 is killing people, my data would show it, especially in Los Angeles, which has some of the worst air quality in the U.S. Not only was there no relationship there, I found a negative correlation in the LA area….If a significant causal relationship between PM2.5 and mortality existed, that relationship should have been visible in this study. But it was not.” 

Milloy’s results were not anomalous. Another study, “Assessing Geographic Heterogeneity and Variable Importance in an Air Pollution Data Set,” authored by S. Stanley Young and Jessie Q. Xia of the National Institute of Statistical Sciences, was equally revealing. It contends that the “association between PM2.5 with mortality, when compared to the associations between other variables and mortality, shows that the importance of PM2.5 is relatively small.” Young and Xia conclude that the “data set does not support the claim that decreasing PM2.5 will increase longevity. If the cost of decreasing PM2.5 is high enough there could well be a net loss in longevity.” (italics mine)

In an equally damning revelation, they refute the level of importance placed on fine particulate matter per se, explaining that insufficient income, cigarette smoking and a lack of education are more influential on longevity. Thus they contend that “policymakers might better focus on improving the economy, reducing cigarette smoking, and encouraging people to pursue education.”

These studies underscore the need for the Secret Science Reform Act, aka, HR4012. It intends to prohibit the EPA from “proposing, finalizing or disseminating regulations based upon scientific information that is not publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent scientific analysis.” It would amend the Section 6 (b) of the Environmental Research, Development and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978 in the following manner: 

“The Administrator shall not propose, finalize, or disseminate a covered action unless all scientific and technical information relied on to support such covered action is (A) specifically identified; and (B) publicly available in a manner that is sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results.” 

That such eminently reasonable demands are necessary at all reveals the contemptible levels to which the EPA and the Obama administration will stoop to advance the radical environmentalist agenda. “As it stands now, only EPA-funded researchers do the work and review the work, and nobody gets to see the data,” explained Milloy. “These are very expensive regulations, and the alleged benefits are entirely based on this PM/death relationship.” It is a relationship revealed to be an utter fraud. It’s time for a thorough cleaning of the EPA itself. It has been polluted by a poisonous ideology for far too long.

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  • CaoMoo

    Well if nothing else Obama has inspired some ballsy defiance in his agencies. They just said We’re lying trust us and we’re going to do what we want anyway. Sounds familiar.

  • jtrollla

    The EPA is to legitimate science as astrology is astronomy.

    • Conniption Fitz

      It’s political science and political/financial gain that rules the EPA.

      Gibson Guitar is the first of many examples.

      • jtrollla

        It is more than that. The EPA is Obama’s Agenda 21 enforcement arm. It’s aim is to deindustrialize the first world (the US in particular), radically reduce the human population, and instantiate a one world government.

  • Christopher Riddle

    No Duh???????????????????????????

  • SoCalMike

    At least someone is resisting these thuggish cretins.
    From brining malaria back into the world and the subsequent death toll in the tens of millions as a result to gas and energy prices 100-200% higher than they would be if the EPA didn’t screw us on gas and oil extraction, the time is long overdue to put these guys out of our misery.
    Turn it over to the states.
    Abolish the EPA.
    They kill innocent people and force us to pay 4-5 dollars for a gallon of gas when we should be paying about 1.50.

    • Jonathan

      Right, I just thought that I was paying $3.51 for the gas I bought this weekend.

      And at $100/barrel of oil, with approximately 40 gallons of gas from a barrel, the price for gas (with refining costs, profit, and taxes) surely works out to $1.50/gallon.

      Is this what they call “conservative math”?

  • Keith Patton

    I was an environmental consultant for 8 years and I can tell you, the EPA is a bully, it is a tyrant more interested in enforcing the letter of the regulations not the spirit of them. I saw a wetland destroyed on the basis of one high lead sample, more to punish the property owner, an oil company, than any desire to clean up the area, which I might add was not contaminated with lead, but with other chemicals spilt by a neighboring company. If the EPA was a parent correcting their children, they would just beat all their kids, because they just KNEW that one of them had done something somewhere where they hadn’t been caught. We showed that my client was not at fault for the environmental problem under question, but were punished for something incidental. The EPA has become a magnet for crusading environmental zealots as are other state agencies. They should do a psychological screening of these clowns just like they do before hiring candiates for jobs in law enforcement. They are out to punish businesses plain and simple.

    • nelly2004

      Thank you for your comments. We need to start calling them out for what they are? The truth is the epa are a bunch of communists who do not want people to have property rights and want to coral them together in small geographical areas because it is easier to control them. Gorbachev has said you can achieve the same ends of communism with environmentalism and he and others are doing exactly that.

      The Bundy incident hopefully is the first step in Americans standing up to the bullying of this phoney agenda to destroy the essence of what America stands for.

    • swemson

      The EPA, in regulating CO2 emissions, is committing fraud, because they know, just as every legitimate scientist knows, that CO2 is not a pollutant. The enviro-facists want us to equate CO2 with coal dust, which caused black lung syndrome in coal miners back in the 18th, 19th & early 20th century. http://www.swemson.com/upl/coal.miner.jpg But CO2 isn’t even carbon. To call CO2 carbon is the same as calling H20 hydrogen.

      I believe that this unconstitutional behavior by the EPA can be challenged successfully in the courts. I’ve spoken to some folks who seem to feel the same way, who are attempting to put together such a challenge to be filed before the midterm elections. Anyone interested in this should contact them at: climate.facts@hmamail.com

      fs

  • yportbill

    You have got to watch those Dorchester girls, B.S. is bred in them.

  • http://shugartpoliticalaction.shugartmedia.com/uncommonsense/ Chris Shugart

    “Science” is a liberal term used as a rubber stamp certification for weak political agendas that have little or no basis in logic. When they use the word, it means that the premise is by definition irrefutable and beyond debate. To challenge this so-called science means that you’re nothing but an ignorant denier. Meanwhile, no actual science has been addressed. “Hey we called it science so STFU!” It’s a childish tactic if you think about.

  • glpage

    Looks like the EPA is giving science a bad name. I am growing weary of hearing leftists claim folks who disagree with them are unable to or do not understand science. If “scientists” do not want to expose their research to the light of day so it can be vetted, if they are saying the research is done and to trust them, if they are saying there is a consensus, they are charlatans and ideologues. Science moves forward only when it is an open endeavor. Laws, regulations, etc. based on “scientific” research should never be allowed to be put into place until the underlying research is vetted.

  • Not Chicken Little

    Science? We ain’t got no science! We don’ need no science! I don’ need to show you any stinkin’ science! Besides there is a consensus. And the science is settled. And our rules and regulations have the effect of law – we can fine you and even put you in jail and you have damn near no chance of winning against us, we can bankrupt you first.

    Besides we are doing it for the greater good – we’re here to help you! So we can do whatever we want – the end justifies the means.

    • CaoMoo

      Sums up what the lady said pretty well

  • NAHALKIDES

    Schweikert’s proposed legislation doesn’t go far enough. It’s time to remove EPA’s independent regulatory authority and turn it into a mere advisory body. Laws should be passed by representatives accountable to the people, not bureaucrats who tend to be environmental extremists. Repeat for other administrative agencies in Washington, and let a new birth of freedom begin.

    • truebearing

      It’s time to remove the EPA and reopen mental institutions so we have a place for them to go once out of their jobs. They aren’t good for anything.

  • JT Hatter

    The EPA quit being a science-based agency long ago. Political science drives it’s activist agenda.

    If a scientist refuses to share his data (like hockey stick author Michael Mann) then he is not practicing acceptable science.

    Whenever a scientist or agency refuses to disclose their data there is chicanery afoot. You can bet on it.

  • Jonathan

    So I guess Harvard and the American Cancer Society are just leftwing fraudster environmentalit groups, while Steve Milloy with his apparently non-peer reviewed, unpublished preprint at his website junkscience.com represents serious science.

    The second article referenced here at least is published in a journal. What it purports to show is that particulates are less important in longevity than is smoking (DuHh!) and income (gee, it never occurred to me that well-to-do people live longer!) So the solution is to get everyone to quit smoking and improve the economy!

    It may or may not make sense to regulate particulates more strongly, but this kind of argumentation against it is pathetic and frankly, embarrassing for the “conservative” cause.

    • nightspore

      Not really, Mr. Sophist.

    • Rob Hobart

      Deflection. Pathetic.

    • CowboyUp

      “So I guess Harvard and the American Cancer Society are just leftwing fraudster environmentalit groups,” -Jonathon.

      Yep, I’ve known that for decades. Embarrassing is when the data, if it actually exists (and apparently it doesn’t), that the EPA uses for making regulations that cost Americans hundreds of billions of dollars, is a better kept secret than our nuclear weapons designs.

    • Jonathan

      Of course, nobody said that the data don’t exist — only that apparently EPA doesn’t have direct access to all the raw data. Big deal. (I’ll bet Congress doesn’t have direct access to our nuclear weapons designs and codes, either.)

      OK, go ahead and claim that “Harvard and the ACS are just leftwing fraudster environmentalist groups.” Good luck with convincing anyone who isn’t already a true believer.

      As I mentioned, the one real scientific paper — because it is actually published — mentioned in support of the thesis in this article — in fact supports the hypothesis that particulates are associated with bad health outcomes (reduced longevity).

      A great reason for denouncing the EPA move to regulate particulates more stringently!

      • truebearing

        Oh, I see how leftist science works. You don’t have to present the actual evidence, you simply assert that it exists, somewhere.

        You don’t know a damn thing about science. Stop embarrassing yourself and your cause by trying to defend the indefensible.

        You don’t want particulate matter in the air? Then I guess you oppose pot smoking, incense, and volcanoes. Better ban moisture because that can lead to mold spores, and better ban pollen because it causes bad allergies. Oh, and you better ban dusty roads.

      • Wolfthatknowsall

        The EPA doesn’t have access to the raw data? Then, they shouldn’t base economy-killing regulations on that data, should they?

        Congress, I am thankful and sure, doesn’t have access to our nuclear weapons designs, you are right. Would we want them to have such access? Who knows but what that access would lead to designs finding their way to the internet?

        It’s a political issue, Jonathan. It has nothing to do with hard science … indeed, hard science tends to indicate that we are on the cusp of the next ice age … those islands in the Pacific will get even more territory. One side or the other will win the political “debate”.

        Personally, I wish to disband the EPA, entirely. Then, our economy might have a chance to recover. However, for the immediate present, I would be happy if Algore would stay on the ground … all that carbon he burns in his jets …

    • truebearing

      Jonathon, my moronic little friend, the EPA had its chance to prove “the science is settled,” but admitted they not only couldn’t but that they lied. Are you too stupid to comprehend that evidence?

  • Shootist

    Tar. Feathers. Long prison terms.

    No?

    Re-elect no one.

    • American1969

      Here you go, Shootist! You should appreciate this picture:

      • Shootist

        Sweet!

        • CaoMoo

          Oh God that made me laugh hard

  • Lod

    How many bull-dykes can this regime get in positions of power?

    Who’s on top?

    • CaoMoo

      It’s a Human pyramid scheme :)

  • spyeatte

    Far-Left politics trumps science at the EPA. When are we going to pull the plug on that obscenely expensive sewer? All it does is stomp on freedom and the economy.

  • Mr. Smith

    Oh, by the way MMGW is also not based on any “facts”; if it were, we would know the Uncertainty Measurement of MMGW because it would be part of the “science” that Libs say that value so much…lol NOT!!!

  • American1969

    Gee. What a surprise.
    It speaks volumes when one side expects everyone to shut up and go along with the program because “the science is settled”, but won’t produce their evidence to back up their agenda. As far as I’ve ever heard, science is never really “settled”. Things are changing all the time. New discoveries are made daily, hourly.
    The EPA has become nothing but another Gestapo for the Fed to use against American citizens. It’s just one among many agencies that could be eliminated. We don’t need them.

  • George of the Jungle

    I have a simple question: would someone tell me whether and how the Constitution allows entities other than Congress to make and pass laws? In other words, why is the EPA not considered unConstitutional at the outset, meaning that its creation was against the law, and all subsequent rules and regulations issued by it are invalid? To me, this type of agency represents a huge loophole in the duties and responsibilities of Congress, allowing them to be disingenuous, lazy liars who foist off their responsibilities onto someone else with minimal oversight and no punishment either for themselves or their out-of-control and ultimately corrupt agencies.

  • SoCalMike

    Abolish this monstrosity.
    You can’t chain it down or reform it.
    It has to go but the Rs don’t have the stomach or spine.

  • Tom Billings

    “The peer review process is the foundation of science inquiry in our
    society, and is a trusted evaluation of scientific evidence around the
    world.”

    This elementary mistake by Rep. Honda, and many more science funders, is at the core of much bad science, and bad science funding. Publishing peer review is properly little more than the function of cutting down on the editor’s slush pile, and improving how the ideas are presented in papers. The true gold standard is *replication*! But too few published experiments are replicated today, because that is costly, and brings no acclaim.

    Funding peer review is a substitute for the judgement of funders, who know they don’t know enough about a field to avoid embarrassment from experiments with negative data on the hypothesis. It results in “stovepiping” science disciplines and refuses too often funding to work, “not in the main lines of research” in a field. Of course, a breakthrough is often necessarily “not in the main lines of research” in a given field.

    “This legislation attempts to dictate how the scientific method is
    employed.”

    What is does is demand that the real, hard, long, scientific method be employed, not the scholasticism too many fields are being pulled backwards into by academia. In fact, bringing forth the raw data is the first step in making replication easier. It allows analysis of statistical handling of that data, and guides full replication by showing how to make replication experiments more accurate.

    The scientific method is *not* about limiting knowledge of raw data, but spreading it, and the conclusions drawn from it.

  • Conniption Fitz

    Obama has turned every agency into a weapon against conservatives and a money machine for his cronies.

    Despicable brazenly corrupt tyrants.

  • buffalo2

    Defund the EPA. The “science” they use is not science but theologically based (man bad – nature good).

  • johnnywoods

    The EPA should cut back to what it`s function was at the time of it`s creation along with corresponding personnel cuts.