American Elephants

Dirty Secrets at the EPA by The Elephant's Child

What do you suppose President Obama’s initial instruction were to his agency heads: Lisa Jackson at the EPA, Dr. Steven Chu at Energy, Ken Salazar at Interior and Tom Vilsack at Agriculture? “Go forth and regulate. Wrap American business in enough red tape to hamstring their efforts to grow or prosper. Restrict energy wherever you can, favoring 21st Century green power, use lots of ethanol— fuel of the future, and try to get rid of dirty coal.”

One would hope that such orders were improbable, but the results would seem to indicate something along those lines. Thanks to the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, public grants of up to $30,000 are being made available to anyone able to claim to build “healthy, sustainable and green communities” or create “green collar jobs.”

I’m not sure what “environmental justice” is. We have a system of justice already, formulated by Legislature, supposedly expressing the will of the people, and administered by the judiciary. It is called the Judicial System. So what is this other thing? Environmental justice must be something outside the regular judicial system, perhaps emanating from the EPA which seems to have its own rules.

Oddly enough, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is already in deepwater with both a federal Court and Congress in a case alleging that it conducted illegal experiments on human beings over the past decade.  Based on Freedom of Information Act released documents, the EPA is being accused of exposing hundreds of people over the last decade to extraordinarily high levels of air pollutants, including diesel exhaust and particulate matter known as PM2.5. The experiments were run at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Steve Milloy’s excellent Junk Science website has followed the story. “Many study subjects were health-impaired; suffering from asthma, metabolic syndrome, and old age (up to 75 years). Financially needy, they enrolled in these experiments for $12 per hour.” As laboratory rats.

The EPA began imposing restrictions on the use of PM2.5, a major component of diesel exhaust fumes in 1997, after it found that long-term exposure could be fatal. The EPA further tightened regulations in 2004, and said it believed PM2.5 could actually kill after short-term exposure.  EPA administrator Lisa Jackson even testified before Congress in September 2011 that “particulate matter causes premature death. It doesn’t make you sick.  It’s directly causal to dying sooner than you should.” The EPA, as a result, imposed stringent regulations regarding PM2.5, all predicated on their own determination that it’s a killer.

When the Reagan administration took office and found similar types of experiments being conducted, it immediately banned them. No such action has so far been taken  in the case of the EPA. It was just let’s just experiment on real people — for the greater good. If federal law finds the EPA culpable, criminal proceedings could follow.

The EPA has been no stranger in federal courts, or state courts. Their enthusiasm for shutting down the coal industry is challenged by a new study is further bad news for the agency. The report Economic implications of Recent and Anticipated EPA Regulations Affecting the Electricity Sector claims EPA regulations affecting the U.S. Coal industry would cost 1.5 million jobs over the next presidential term. CO2 emissions have fallen sharply in the U.S., without regulation, due to increased use of natural gas. The NERA study warns that EPA regulations affecting coal-fired electricity power generation would cost in industry $200 to $220 billion from 2013 to 2034.

The EPA is set to regulate the largest “polluters” to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted to the air. Yet CO2,which we exhale, is a natural  fertilizer that makes plants grow. At the Congressional hearing in March dealing with this regulation, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) asked the EPA’s Chief of Air Programs and Greenhouse Gas Regulations if she knew what the level of CO2 is right now in the atmosphere. She said she didn’t have that figure. In greenhouses, growers raise the levels of CO2 to 1,000 parts per million  to increase growth. It is currently around 390 ppm. The levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have been both much higher and much lower in the past. It is not at all certain that so-called global warming is caused by CO2 in the atmosphere. We have not had any warming for the past 15 years, it has been both much warmer in the past and much cooler.  We are  presently in a cooling phase.

The EPA has spent much of the last four years in court, and their batting average is not good. And there is lots more to come. EPA administrators have been using a series of hidden or “alias” email accounts, which is against federal law. “Richard Windsor” is one of the alias names used by Ms. Jackson to keep her email from those who ask for it. So there will be more court appearances. Lisa Jackson is now said to be departing the agency and returning to her native New Jersey. Quite a flood of people departing the Obama administration.

9 Comments so far
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“Yet CO2,which we exhale, is a natural fertilizer that makes plants grow. … In greenhouses, growers raise the levels of CO2 to 1,000 parts per million to increase growth.”

You use this logic all the time and it is inane. Substitute water and the sentence would also make sense. Humans need water to live also. But breath in too much water and you’ll die.

I’m not suggesting that we are anywhere near levels of CO2 in the atmosphere that would cause asphyxiation. But to start with the argument that CO2 is of no concern because it is good for plants makes your reasoning sound simplistic. I know you have better arguments than that (not that I necessarily agree with them), but as a friendly suggestion I’d drop that “CO2 is good for plants” part of it, except to point out that the fertilizer effect does to some extent slow down the rise of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere by locking up more in biomass.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

But I don’t substitute water, Subsidy, nor is it inane, thank you very much. We are quite comfortable in a greenhouse, the elevated CO2 presents no problem. Many people have come to believe that somehow carbon dioxide is poisonous, damaging to human life in some way. CO2 is absorbed by the oceans, and arises from the oceans. There is no evidence that CO2 is the cause of global warming, nor that “global warming” is other than the natural warming and cooling of the atmosphere from the actions of the sun and clouds.
The “inane” logic you find is used by many scientists to explain the actions of CO2. It isn’t something I dreamed up. Perhaps you can tell me what the “correct” amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is and what is the “correct” climate — the one we should worry if temperatures exceed or go below.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

“Many people have come to believe that somehow carbon dioxide is poisonous, damaging to human life in some way.”

It is poisonous, at high enough concentrations, just as water is. (It’s called dilutional hyponatremia.)

What you have created is a straw-man argument. No policy maker in this area is concerned about whether CO2 is poisonous at current or likely future atmospheric concentrations. That there might be some people out there who do believe it is poisonous is irrelevant. One third of American’s believe in UFOs and that the Government is hiding the truth on them from us. Want to go on a rant about those people, too? (I won’t speculate on which political party they vote for.)

What policy-makers and scientists are concerned about are the effects of global climate change on the frequency and severity of storms; changes in precipitation patterns; melting ice caps and the rise in sea levels that could cause coastal flooding; the acidification of the oceans (through the CO2 absorbtion to mention), leading to among other problems the destruction of coral reefs; and a pole-wise shift in the range of disease-carrying mosquitoes. Their least concern is the direct negative effects of heat (which could render as much land habitable as inhabitable). That CO2 levels and temperatures have been higher in the past is beside the point; it is the rate of change that could happen that is worrying many scientists and economists. Moreover, during those earlier periods, the number of extant humans was a tiny fraction of what it is today, and the investment in built-up, permanent infrastructure was close to zero.

You write that “there is no evidence that CO2 is the cause of global warming.” Is your argument that CO2 does not have a an insulating effect (something that has been proven for a long time), or that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is not enough, and will not be enough, to have much of an effect on climate?

Is there natural warming and cooling of the atmosphere from the actions of the sun and clouds? Of course there is. But all that means is that figuring out the contribution of atmospheric gases with warming potential (CO2, methane, etc.) is made that much more difficult.

My point about the “inanity” of your argument was, again, not that it wasn’t true, but that it sets up a strawman argument and is beside the point, except — as I said — to point out that there is a feedback effect through increasing plant growth.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

“Many people” does not refer to scientists, I believe I said “people.” Policy makers and scientists understand that storms are weather, and warming is temperature. Don’t stick some silly comment about UFOs in your comment, it’s insulting. As Ian Plimer remarked, as long as there are rocks in the ocean you don’t have to worry about acidification. And the indication that there is suddenly going to be this alarming rise of the oceans, melting ice caps, precipitation changes, coastal flooding is….?

There is no such indication except the money to be made in the global warming business which is constantly being proven to be a fraud. Britain’s excessive turn to green energy and fear of global warming has been driven by the BBC’s enthusiastic support of global warming which is now being exposed in 28Gate, a scandal that reveals that what they claimed was scientist-supported information were instead Greenpeace supported. See Chris Horner on the Global Warming Industry.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

Subsidy’s argument,if that is an argument,is to change what concerns ‘people’ as the previous point is challenged.It’s a rhetorical technique that we who deal in facts and truth really dislike.The purpose is to never allow the person you’re disagreeing with to pin you down.Leftists think it makes them unbeatable in an argument,but it makes them come off as slippery,not knowledgeable.You did a great job of puncturing the rhetoric.


Comment by chester arthur

Thank you very much.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

@Chester Author: You style yourself as somebody who deals in facts and truth and then — because I disagree with a Republican blogger — you jump to the conclusion that I am a leftist. Real intelligent, that. Maybe you need to adjust your color knobs; your reception seems to be set to black and white.

And both of you need to re-read what I wrote. I did not question whether “Many people have come to believe that somehow carbon dioxide is poisonous.” What I said was that pointing that out was irrelevant to the debate. Noting that 1/3 of people believe in UFOs is not insulting. I was merely underscoring that a lot of people (on both sides of the political divide, I would argue, from experience in talking with them) have a poor grasp of science, not to mention economics. That’s lamentable, but is relevant to the questions at stake only to the extent that policy makers take advantage of that ignorance.

“As Ian Plimer remarked, as long as there are rocks in the ocean you don’t have to worry about acidification”?! Another brilliant statement. Between 1751 and 1994 surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.25 to 8.14, representing an increase of almost 30% in H+ ion concentration in the world’s oceans. There have been umpteen peer-reviewed papers on the effects of ocean acidification on corals, whose skeletons are made primarily of calcium carbonate. For example:

Have there been scandals on both sides of the climate-change debate relating to attempts to supress or twist information? Unfortunately less. But that does not give license to critics on one side to nulify all the evidence used by the other.

Finally, I have been a long-term critic of self-serving arguments proffered by the biofuels industry, the wind-power industry, the sustainability certification industry, you name it. But, again, that doesn’t mean that I can’t see beyond those self-serving arguments to judge whether there is some merit to their cases.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

The problem, Subsidy, is that most of the evidence proffered by the climate alarmists comes from their climate computer programs, not from observation. The programs are based on what is known, a surprisingly small amount, and added to with estimates and guesses. There is a powerful array of wealthy radical environmental groups like Greenpeace, Sierra Club, NRDC, The World Wildlife Fund and many more who support alarmism. Those who can submit grant proposals that investigate global warming get government funds and prestige and funding for their universities. Hard for those who observe and do not believe the alarmism to compete — there’s no money in that.

I’ve never heard of any scandals among the skeptics, only among the “peer reviewed” bunch. Skepticism is, after all what science is all about.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

For example:

Yeah, you can say that these people, though they are funded, are not influenced by the money. But one can also say that about some of the scientists on the other side of the debate.

This is a big issue with lots of vested interests — green industries, fossil-fuel industries, agriculture. The science is not all dependent on big atmospheric models. There are plenty of pieces of the puzzle that are pretty well established and, like the theory of evolution (which nobody has lived long enough to witness), point to some possibilities, if not probabilities, that are too worrying not to ignore.

Problem is, humankind is like the optimist falling out of the skyscraper window. A guy opens the window and asks the falling person how he’s doing. “So far so good!”, the latter answers.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

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