Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Court Order for EPA to Ban Pesticide, Spotlights Need for ‘Transparency’ Rule

The "Six Cities" study mentioned below is certainly rubbish. Based on it, the Obama EPA claimed that outdoor air kills hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. EPA then used this claim to: wreck the coal industry; justify expensive and job-killing air quality and climate rules; and to scare Americans about the air they breathe.

It is yet another very careless air pollution study.  I have over time reviewed a lot of them (e.g. here and here and here) and found that they were all naive about controls to the point of making their findings at best moot.  A very simple demolition of the garbage mentioned above is here. Note that the alleged 2005 confirmation of the original results was simply a re-analysis of the original data that did nothing to address the lack of basic controls

Also, Steve Milloys's book “Scare Pollution: Why and How to Fix the EPA” shows that there is nothing remotely scientific or honest about the Harvard Six Cities and Pope ACS studies, or the alleged HEI review. Steve says that the only thing that was “rigorous” in the studies was the fraud.

How can Americans be certain that scientific studies that are the basis of costly EPA regulations are accurate, and that the benefits of the regulations outweigh the expense?

Contrary to what critics say about a proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency, part of the answer lies in greater openness and transparency by federal officials, according to a new report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based libertarian think tank.

The rule, called “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science,” would require the EPA to publish the scientific data behind regulations so that the information would be available for public scrutiny.

The value of the proposal became apparent Aug. 9, when a federal appeals court ordered the EPA to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos within 60 days, says CEI senior fellow Angela Logomasini, who authored the study.

“The Trump administration should certainly challenge this ruling, which goes beyond the bounds of reason and conflicts with all the best science on chlorpyrifos,” Logomasini, who specializes in environmental and consumer issues, said in a press release, adding:

The EPA is currently pursuing a scheduled scientific review on chlorpyrifos, and there is no reason they should stop that because of a misguided activist petition. The Trump administration was right to reject the proposed ban because it was based on a single study that EPA’s science advisory board indicated was inappropriate for drawing any conclusions.

In addition, the researchers refuse to release the underlying data of this study, preventing anyone from doing legitimate scientific review to ensure its validity. This case offers yet another reason why EPA should finalize its pending rule to increase scientific transparency at the agency.

If Congress decided to impose a ban, it would hinder farming and raise consumer prices for food, Logomasini noted in a recent op-ed. Proponents of a ban on chlorpyrifos see a connection between the pesticide and developmental disabilities in children.

A report in The New York Times about the order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit cites studies concluding that the effects of  chlorpyrifos on children “included lower birth weight and reduced I.Q., with farm workers also reporting loss of working memory and other health consequences that at times resulted in hospital admissions.”

Court watchers consider the 9th Circuit to be one of the most liberal federal courts in the nation, and President Donald Trump hopes to reshape it through his appointments.

What the Rule Would Do:

The EPA’s transparency rule would help to counter unsubstantiated claims against pesticides such as chlorpyrifos that protect crops from insects, Logomasini argues.

The proposed rule would require the EPA to “use peer-reviewed information, standardized test methods, consistent data evaluation procedures, and good laboratory practices to ensure transparent, understandable, and reproducible scientific assessments.” It is modeled after legislation that would have banned the practice of “secret science.”

Several versions of the bill passed the House, but not the Senate.

The EPA’s proposed transparency rule includes language similar to the legislation. EPA officials also included provisions that are quite different from what advanced through the House.

“The rule affords the EPA administrator considerable leeway to permit regulators to use research in cases where privacy or other concerns limit public availability,” Logomasini writes, adding:

In fact, under some laws, such as the newly reformed Toxic Substances Control Act, the EPA must use such research if it constitutes the ‘best available science’ on an issue. In that case, even if data were not fully available, the agency would still be required to rely on those critical studies. However, in cases where data can be more transparent without privacy concerns, the EPA could not refuse to release the data on arbitrary grounds.

If implemented, the transparency rule would not cover all EPA regulatory activities, but it would be applicable to regulations that would be expected to cost at least $100 million a year, according to the report. The rule also includes provisions that safeguard “confidential business information” and is “sensitive to national and homeland security,” Logomasini writes.

The transparency proposal has attracted criticism from some researchers who have expressed concern that it would hinder the scientific process. Logomasini analyzes some of these arguments in the report.

For example, John Ioannidis, a Stanford University professor of medicine, warns in a recent editorial that if the rule is implemented, “science will be practically eliminated from all decision-making processes” and that any new regulations “would then depend uniquely on opinion and whim.”

Despite his expressed misgivings toward the EPA proposal, the CEI report notes that Ioannidis raises “some good points” that make a strong case for greater transparency in science.

Transparency as ‘Inherently Pro-Science’

“Many critics of EPA’s transparency rule claim it is ‘anti-science’ and represents an ideological attack on regulation,” Logomasini says in her report. “It is true that those who prefer less regulation hope that the rule would eliminate unnecessary regulations that are based on poor-quality science. And it is also true that many oppose the rule because they fear it will weaken regulation. But irrespective of these ideological views, increasing transparency in science, whether used for government regulation or not, is an inherently pro-science goal.”

Logomasini also addresses claims raised in some news stories that suggest the transparency rule is laced with a “hidden pro-industry agenda” aimed at undermining air quality regulations.

The EPA implemented those rules for the purpose of alleviating airborne particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, known as PM2.5. The regulations were based on science produced in a taxpayer-funded study from Harvard and Brigham Young University researchers that the agency kept sealed from public scrutiny.

The 1993 study, known as the Six Cities Study, is built around a statistical analysis that found a relationship between the life span of people living in six cities and the levels of the small airborne particles. The study concluded that people living in cities with higher levels of PM2.5 had shorter life spans than those in cities with lower levels.

Researchers who were part of the Six Cities Study have said they never agreed to release the data attached to the study and cited a need for anonymity. The EPA repeatedly has resisted congressional requests to disclose the information.

If researchers have genuine privacy concerns, the transparency rule can accommodate them, Logomasini says in the report. But she also points out that if the study’s findings are accurate, release of the data would serve only to strengthen the case for the air regulations:

Privacy concerns might be a legitimate challenge for releasing some or all of the Six Cities data. If that is the case, the rule, as noted, provides exemptions for rare cases where data cannot be made anonymous and privacy must be maintained. Accordingly, regulators can still use the Six Cities data, if legitimate privacy concerns prevent full release.

In cases where the data can be made anonymous, it should be released regardless of whether it supports weakening or strengthening regulations. After all, if a study’s findings are valid, releasing the data will only strengthen claims about the benefits of these regulations. If the findings are not valid, then we know that regulatory costs may not be justified, and that society actually suffers net negative effects because of those costs.

Indeed, regulation can translate into higher prices for food, transportation, consumer products, and even medicines. The debate over the rule is not about whether it benefits industry or not, but about how it impacts public health and well-being overall.

A Matter of Trust

The EPA’s public comment period for the transparency proposal ended Aug. 16.

Daren Bakst, a senior research fellow in agricultural policy at The Heritage Foundation, submitted comments that same day and credited the agency for recognizing the importance of public participation in the regulatory process.

“A transparent rulemaking process helps to ensure that decisions are being made in a proper fashion,” Bakst wrote, adding:

The public should not be expected to just trust the EPA (or any agency) to promulgate any rule it wants and draw its own conclusions without the public knowing how those conclusions were reached. This expectation does not change simply because the agency is dealing with a scientific study. Further, the EPA is not immune to seeking preferred policy outcomes and using questionable science to achieve those outcomes. Transparency helps to minimize these problems.

But the proposed rule remains the subject of criticism from other researchers and environmental advocacy groups.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit based in New York, argues in a blog post that the rule would “roll back health protections” because it could be used to prohibit studies that were the basis for regulations that protect the public from pollution and other dangers.

“There are many reasons why a  study cannot be made fully public, or replicated,” the NRDC blog says, adding:

For example, the original raw data may no longer exist, the original exposure conditions may no longer exist (such as lead exposures from leaded gasoline), and patient protection and privacy rules may prevent full disclosure of the raw data and information. EPA has long-established and transparent methods for evaluating data in these situations.

Supporters of the EPA proposal view it as a commonsense measure that will bring an added element of accountability to the regulatory process.

“EPA’s proposed rule strengthening science transparency is as common sense as rules come,” Tom Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, told The Daily Signal in an email.

“The public must be able to hold government institutions accountable and that can only be done if the science used to justify costly regulations is rigorous, reproducible, and holds up to independent scrutiny,” Pyle said. “Peer review and factual analysis are hallmarks of scientific research. If the EPA doesn’t have to follow these standards, how can we trust that the rules they put forward are based on sound science and not political science?”

The Institute for Energy Research is a Washington-based nonprofit that favors free-market solutions in setting energy policies.

The EPA said it has begun to review the more than 479,000 comments, a process that could last through fall. The agency then will determine a timeline for making a final decision.


CA: News from Death Valley

A reader takes an interest in temperatures in Death Valley, often said to be the hottest place on earth.  He has not given me a full report of what exactly he has done but the following summary may be of interest.  The valley is NOT warming

I continue to monitor the temperatures of Death Valley and while August has typically the hottest days the temperature as of today has not exceeded 120 deg F, while past years typically reach the mid to high 120's. And compare this to the reported heat wave and drought present across much of the USA and a CO2 level of about 410 ppm. In addition humidity has been relatively low as well in Death Valley. The data from Death Valley would not support Global Warming theories. For the last 8 years the yearly temperature maximums have been dropping lower and lower but also the overnight temperature drop has been much lower than past periods.

There are a number of factors that could have a significant impact on surface temperatures. After thousands of years of sun heating the surface material there would be a certain residual inertia. It is possible that the air mass at the surface is not getting as warm but the near surface earth still has a significant reservoir of energy. There has to be some other explanation for lower max air temperatures as well as  lower overnight cooling even with higher CO2 concentrations and low humidity.

Via email

Trump ends Obama's war on American coal

Donald Trump promised when he was running for president that he would repeal regulations that kill jobs. The Clean Power Plan of the Obama administration is Exhibit A. On the campaign trail in states like Ohio and West Virginia, I saw firsthand how the Clean Power Plan regulations were decimating proud coal towns where economic activity was replaced with unemployment lines and drug use.

This week, the White House announced its plan for overturning the most onerous features of that law, which will throw a lifeline to the American coal industry. Trump is not eliminating clean air standards as the environmentalists are moaning. The new rules would continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but in a way that would ensure that the regulatory steamroller does not flatten an industry that employs tens of thousands of Americans and contributes tens of billions of dollars to our economy. The Environmental Protection Agency announced that the new rule will save coal producers $400 million a year in compliance costs and thousands of jobs.

But the left is apocalyptic about these new rules because they want to destroy the American coal industry, no matter how clean coal gets. The Clean Power Plan intentionally set such stringent emission rules that coal producers could not possibly meet them. So coal companies one by one would go bankrupt. Cheap natural gas has proved to be a formidable competitor to coal producers. But the main problem for coal today is not due to Schumpeterian market based “gales of creative destruction.” This is a government directed execution. Hillary Clinton promised that if she were elected president, she would eliminate every coal job in America, yet she wonders why she got clobbered in Ohio, Kentucky, Wyoming and West Virginia.

The left wants coal production stopped, even though clean coal is not a fiction. It is here. Coal production and coal burning is much cleaner than it was 10, 20 or 30 years ago. The real pollutants from burning coal including lead, soot, carbon monoxide and smog have fallen by 50, 60, 80 and even 90 percent over the last several decades. The air we breathe today is much cleaner than it has been 20, 50 or 100 years ago. Even with the new Trump administration rules, the Energy Information Agency projects carbon output to decline 28 percent by the end of the next decade.

Trump is right to stop the government massacre of coal. America was - and still is built on fossil fuels. In my book, “Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy,” I point out the irony that the industrial revolution, when our nation built factories, steam engines, railroads and so on, was made possible by an energy revolution that ditched the inefficiencies of windmills and sundials for powerful coal and oil. But now we have environmentalists who want to turn back the clock and force us to power our $20 trillion industrial economy with energy sources from before the industrial age. Left wing environmental groups are even admitting that once they have killed coal, they are coming after natural gas and oil.

This is an economic death march. Despite all of the talk about a green energy takeover, we still get about 70 percent of our energy from fossil fuels including coal. In 2017, a third of all our electric power came from coal, while solar power and its tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies provided less than 2 percent. The United States is also the Saudi Arabia of coal. We have a 500 year supply of coal, far more than any other nation. For America not to produce coal would be like Nebraska not growing corn. At the very least, coal plants are necessary to back up wind and solar energy, otherwise America is going to experience rolling blackouts and brownouts that will greatly jeopardize our economy and our safety.

Here is the most important point of all. Let us assume for a moment that, God forbid, America were to shut down every coal plant on the continent and every coal miner in America were issued a pink slip. What impact would this have on global carbon emissions? Almost zero. This is because China and India, with their two billion people, are massively increasing their carbon emissions every year. For every coal plant we shutdown, China and India build at least five, and their coal is much dirtier than ours. In 2017 under Trump, the United States reduced our carbon emissions by 0.5 percent (even as our economy grew by 3 percent) while China and India belched out of their factories and cars record amounts of black smoke and added to their carbon footprint.

America is already doing more than its part to clean the planet. We all want clean air and a safe environment. But that doesn’t have to come at the cost of destroying jobs and putting our entire economy at risk. Trump is proving is that economic growth, jobs and a cleaner environment are compatible, and he’s producing all three at once.


Coal comeback? EPA plan would prolong life for power plants seen as climate change culprit

Aging coal-fired power plants could get a new lease on life under an industry-friendly proposal by the Trump administration that would replace the Clean Power Plan, former President Barack Obama's signature plan to confront climate change.

Unveiled Tuesday, the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule would give states broad latitude in how they would regulate power plants' greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming as well as other pollutants, such as smog, soot and mercury.

"Today we are fulfilling the president's agenda. We are proposing a (plan) that promotes affordable, clean and reliable energy for all Americans," Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told reporters Tuesday, adding that the Clean Power Plan "exceeded the agency's legal authority."

But by the EPA's own admission, the proposal could lead to more than 1,000 premature deaths a year, a statistic opponents pounced on.

“With today’s Dirty Power Plan proposal, the Trump EPA once again proves that it cares more about extending the lives of old coal plants rather than saving the lives of the American people,” said Conrad Schneider, advocacy director of the Clean Air Task Force.

 Environmental groups and some states vowed to sue to stop the plan's implementation, just as opponents of Obama's Clean Power Plan have done.

In a tweet, California Gov. Jerry Brown  called the EPA proposal "a declaration of war against America and all of humanity" that will not go unanswered.

The Clean Power Plan rule was finalized in 2015, mainly targeting coal-fired power plants that account for nearly 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. But it remains on hold under a Supreme Court stay pending the outcome of a legal challenge from states.

In October, then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt rolled it back,carrying out a promise by Trump to push an energy agenda that encouraged the use of coal. The president, who has called global warming "a hoax" perpetrated by China to gain a competitive edge, wrote in a tweet May 18 that "we have ended the war on coal."

Aimed squarely at coal-fired power plants, Obama's proposal would require existing power plants to cut harmful emissions based on  2005 levels. By 2030, the reduction would be 32 percent for carbon, 90 percent for sulfur dioxide and 72 percent for nitrogen oxides.

Wheeler called the Obama plan "overly prescriptive and burdensome" and said it would have led to "double-digit" increases in electricity prices in as many as 40 states, Wheeler told reporters on a conference call. EPA officials on the same call said consumer prices will fall slightly under the Trump plan by 2025.

According to the EPA, the Trump plan would:

Define the “best system of emission reduction” for existing power plants as on-site, heat-rate efficiency improvements.

Provide states with a list of “candidate technologies” that can be used to establish standards of performance and be incorporated into their state plans.

Update the New Source Review permitting program to further encourage "efficiency improvements" at existing power plants.

Give "states adequate time and flexibility" to develop their own plans.

Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, which serves 42 million consumers nationwide, supports the plan.

“The proposed rule appears to provide electric cooperatives with a more achievable plan that adheres to EPA’s historic approach to using the Clean Air Act," he said in a statement. "This is necessary to provide electric co-ops the certainty and flexibility they need to meet their consumer-members’ local energy needs."

But environmental groups decried the plan as a sop to the coal industry at the expense of public health and the reality of climate change.

Gina McCarthy, former EPA administrator under Obama and an architect of the Clean Power Plan, called the Trump administration's move "a huge gimme to coal-fired power plants" by giving them a "free pass" to increase not just carbon emissions but other unhealthy pollutants as well.

"They are continuing to play to their base, and they are following industry's playbook step by step," she told reporters. "This is all about coal at all costs."


America First Energy Conference – “an amazing day”

New Orleans event reveals much of what has been hidden from the energy debate

Dr. Jay Lehr and Tom Harris

“It will be an amazing day,” Dr. Tim Huelskamp announced at the start of the America First Energy Conference (AFEC) held August 7 in New Orleans. “You’re going to learn a lot … about so many issues – issues many in the media do not want us to know about.”

Indeed, we did. As Huelskamp, former Kansas Congressman and now President of conference organizer The Heartland Institute, explained to the audience of 225, packed into that single day were presentations from leading representatives of government, science and think tanks determined to set the record straight on where America stands and where it needs to go on energy. Here are samples.

In his morning keynote address Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry summarized the benefits of energy independence. “An energy independent America creates a safe America; it creates a prosperous America. It builds the middle class. It provides good jobs, good schools. It gives government the ability to give teachers a raise, to give our police and firefighters raises. It secures the safety and liberty of the entire world.”

Using the electricity required to power the Houston metropolitan area as an example, Landry discussed the impracticality of trying to replace fossil fuels with alternative energy. To produce that power using corn ethanol would require over 21,000 square miles of corn fields.

“Think about that footprint!” he exclaimed. To produce the same amount of electricity from wind power would take almost 900 square miles of wind turbines, or 150 square miles of solar panels, he added.

Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, was an ever-present voice at the conference. He received an award for valor in the face of extreme opposition to his outstanding work on satellite measurements, which show conclusively that carbon dioxide (CO2) has played no significant role in altering Earth’s temperature.

In his panel presentation on CO2, he made the unarguable case that there are no negatives for the rising amount of CO2 in our atmosphere. It is a miracle molecule that makes life possible on Planet Earth.

Kathleen Hartnett White, Director of the Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment, Texas Public Policy Foundation, talked about the positive impact that her book “Fueling Freedom: Exposing the mad war on energy,” coauthored with Steve Moore of the President’s transition team, has had on the US energy picture.

She also focused on the horrific impacts outcomes forced upon world’s poorest families, when they are deprived of efficient, inexpensive fossil fuels in favor of costly solar and wind energy that can never compete in the free market without major taxpayer subsidies.

Joe Leimkuhler, vice president of drilling for Louisiana-based LLOG Exploration, shocked the audience with incredible data on the efficiency and economics of continuing to developing our vast offshore oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico.

Because of the great advances in development of shale gas through horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, less attention is being paid to more conventional off shore vertical wells. But in fact, three-dimensional seismic data, combined with technological advances that allow multiple wells from the same platform, have costs down and yields up.

Leimkuhler said that in areas of the Gulf of Mexico that are currently open to leasing (i.e., the Central and Western Gulf) more and more offshore leases are likely to receive bids in the future, due to the increased value of Gulf Coast Crude relative to oil from fracking. For the Gulf Coast refineries, offshore Gulf of Mexico crudes provide higher yields of the more valuable products desired by the market (fuel, diesel).

Sterling Burnet, Editor of the Heartland Institute’s Environment and Climate News, moderated a panel on coal, oil, and natural gas. Panelists demonstrated America’s good fortune of holding huge inexpensive reserves that can maintain America’s energy costs dramatically below that of other nations. Burnett said we must end the war on fossil fuels by continuing to explain the economics, safety and efficiency of coal, oil and natural gas.

He described the large numbers of coal fired plants that were shut down by the Obama administration. This trend must be stopped, Burnett emphasized. Coal needs to be brought back as a great American resource in the hearts and minds of the American public.

Myron Ebell, Director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, led the Trump administration’s transition team on energy regulation. At AFEC he reviewed the many regulations being eliminated.

He noted that President Trump called for two rules to be eliminated for every new rule that would be established in his administration; but in fact his administration has eliminated twenty regulations for every new one established. We still have a long way to go to fully unencumber America’s economy, Ebell said, but the start has exceeded most expectations.

Marc Morano, publisher of the influential Washington, DC-based Climatedepot.com, revealed that many of America’s most strident leftist environmental activist groups are heavily financed by Russian money in an effort to hurt the US economy through inhibiting the use of fossil fuels and promoting the waste of government funds for research into implausible man-caused climate change.

Morano’s new book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change, is considered one of the most complete guides to the true history of the greatest fraud in history, man-caused climate change.

It was heartening to learn the participants in Panel 6: Reforming the EPA all felt the new administrator Andrew Wheeler will carry on the excellent work of former administrator Scott Pruitt. The problem is, and will continue to be, that the vast majority of EPA staff remain Obama appointees who will continue to impede efforts to make significant reforms. In spite of this, changes for the better are occurring almost daily as Wheeler meets with state groups across the country.

In his keynote address at the conference’s closing session, philosopher and President of the Center for Industrial Progress Alex Epstein explained how to win the energy debate. First establish an agreement on the correct framework, one that is even handed, precise and values human health, living standards and betterment. Then the facts in support of fossils fuels are more likely to be well-received.

Epstein, author of the New York Times bestseller, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, showed a video of his exchange with Senator Barbara Boxer of California at the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Boxer wondered what a philosopher was doing lecturing the committee. He smoothly answered, “to help you learn how to think clearly.” This brought the house down.

All AFEC sessions – including Carbon taxes, cap & trade, and other bad ideas, Fueling freedom and prosperity, Cafe standards: Why they need to go, Climate lawsuits against energy companies and the government – may be viewed on the conference web site: http://americafirstenergy.org/.

Everyone needs to watch these educational conference presentations. It was a day to remember.

Via email



Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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