Remember Steve Milloy, the guy who runs Junkscience.com and tweets obsessively about climate bedwetting or how Pope Francis is a communist? (And sometimes both!)
He’s been cropping up quite a bit on our radar recently. Last week we referenced that the EPA followed Milloy’s lead in denying the reality of the health impacts of particulate matter in justifying the CPP repeal. Yesterday we mentioned that he was one of the “experts” contesting the Endangerment Finding.
It appears to be a big week for Milloy: Scott Pruitt’s move to purge independent scientists from EPA advisory boards and replace them with industry voices--a possibility he hinted at a Heritage Foundation event yesterday--is something Milloy has lobbied on for a while now. (For info on the advisory board issue, check out the collection of great blog posts from the Union of Concerned Scientists.)
Milloy’s push, adopted by Pruitt, is tantamount the sort of Big Lie that so totally flips reality on its head that it’s hard to even wrap your mind around. Replacing advisors who in the past received EPA grants (those with current grants are already prevented from serving) with those who work for the industry is a deliberate move to introduce, not remove, bias. Peer-reviewed studies of various fields, from medical drug trials to surgery to sugar, have shown industry funding biases results. Research funded by the EPA is done in the public interest. Research funded by industry is done in the interest of generating profits.
When one considers Milloy’s career, it’s easy to see why he would put private industry profits ahead of public well-being: he’s been paid to do this all along. Before a stint as a coal executive at Murray Energy (owned by Trump pal Bob Murray), Milloy was the face of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC). This was a front group created in 1993 by a PR firm, using tobacco industry money (specifically from Phillip Morris) to advance pro-smoking propaganda. From this workstream, Milloy’s junkscience website got its start.
One of Milloy’s greatest PR successes was his stint writing for FoxNews.com, where he published a variety of pro-polluter pieces, without disclosing he was under contract from Phillip Morris and that TASSC was funded by a variety of industries. When news broke in 2006 that Milloy was using Fox to execute a pro-smoking public relations strategy, Milloy’s credibility took a major hit. For years he was scarcely seen in mainstream media and the denier world alike.
But apparently a decade is long enough for the Trump administration to feel fine hiring Milloy as a transition official, though they apparently knew better than to publicly identify him as one. Now obviously we can’t say for sure why the Trump administration decided not to identify Milloy publicly. Legally though, when a court listens to the CPP repeal arguments about whether Pruitt’s decision to ignore PM 2.5 costs to public health was arbitrary or capricious, knowing that the idea came from someone so clearly wed to industry interests may influence their ruling.
Because apparently when Pruitt can’t be bothered to think of his own ways to appease industry, he outsources to Milloy, his own personal TASSC-rabbit.
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