American Elephants


The EPA Wants to Regulate More, Claims Unprovable Benefits. by The Elephant's Child

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims to have reduced six common air pollutants by 72% since 1970. The EPA claims that with these reductions they have achieved meaningful public-health benefits, from improved respiratory health  to increased life expectancy.

Naturally, the agency wants to prolong their usefulness. If they can’t keep officially improving American health and well-being, then we might dispose of the agency. The question now is whether further decreases in air pollution to levels that approach those that occur naturally will result in additional public health benefits?

Is the existing National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone sufficient to protect public health? Ozone is a colorless, odorless gas that is not directly released into the air, but is formed when sunlight reacts with two other pollutants: volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides. These come from many natural sources (plants, forest fires) as well as human-caused sources (cars, industrial facilities, power plants).

There is a Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, a panel of scientists and public-health  experts charged by Congress with advising the EPA. They met in March to study the agency’s evaluation of the link between ozone and respiratory illnesses such as asthma and other health issues.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was forced to reveal 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 under the Clean Air Act. I do not know if Ms. McCarthy informed the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee of that problem — that they have no scientific foundation for their assertions about what they are claiming about asthma and other health problems. They no longer have the studies that they once relied on, and those studies have been superseded by more recent studies that refute the data on which the EPA relies.

There was a huge flap about holes in the ozone layer a number of years ago, holes that occur naturally at certain times of the year, and because of that they removed effective asthma inhalers from the marketplace and replaced them with far less effective ones. The government told us never to eat butter. Bad. Now butter is fine again. Eggs—never eat eggs, cholesterol. Now we are reduced to little ads at the bottom of each web page telling us “never eat this one food.” I do not believe the pronouncements of the ‘experts’ in government. I do not believe they are experts nor do they know what they are talking about.

Currently the EPA standard for ozone in the air is 75 parts per billion, the strictest level since the standard was established in 1971. In 2008 the EPA determined, and a federal court agreed, that this standard protects public health. But now the EPA says that 75 ppb is not protective enough and is recommending a change to between 60 ppb and 70 ppb. Meanwhile, the overwhelming body of scientific evidence indicates lowering the current ozone standard will not provide added health benefits beyond those achieved with the current standard.

There have been hundreds of scientific studies on ozone exposure and possible health effects, and the EPA has reviewed most of them. However, the EPA has not evaluated them in systematic fashion, by considering study strengths and limitations in a consistent manner from study to study. This type of analysis is called a “weight-of-evidence” evaluation, and it can help prevent the cherry-picking of studies—which can occur when scientists focus on studies or evaluate data that confirm their position, or when the scientists place less emphasis on studies that do not.

Most studies examining connections between ozone and health effects do not adequately account for smoking or other factors such as diet and exercise that could contribute to diseases attributed to ozone. By not fully considering these other factors, the EPA assumes that ozone causes more health effects than what the science supports.

I’m not at all sure that the EPA  has any valid accomplishments. So many of their claims just don’t pan out. Ethanol requirements have brought us vast inflation in the cost of food and other merchandise, and been worse for the environment than the gasoline they replaced. Endangered species turned out to not be endangered, the lightbulbs they outlawed gave much better light, wind and solar are not a replacement for cheap reliable coal-fired power plants that power a creative and entrepreneurial society. And they have no business having a SWAT team.




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