Scott Pruitt formally announced yesterday the new guidelines for and members of the Science Advisory Board and Clean Air Science Advisory Council that provide expert analysis of the science underlying EPA regulations. If you’re looking for a great explainer to email a confused friend or post for a non-climate-conscious Facebook audience, the Union of Concerned Scientists has a few posts ripe for sharing with anyone who isn’t down in the nitty gritty on the issue.
In one post, UCS’s Director for Science and Democracy Andrew Rosenberg explains how Pruitt has inverted the idea of conflicts of interest, kicking out independent experts while taking on those with direct industry ties. In another, Deputy director of the Center for Science & Democracy Michael Halpern tackles what these boards are, and why it matters who’s on them: they act as internal fact-checkers for the science underlying the policy. Finally, Science and Policy Analyst Genna Reed looks at some of the nominees and their transparent conflicts of interest. Michael Honeycutt, now chair, is one of the nominees Reed inspects, and Kimberly White of the American Chemistry Council, was also selected for the SAB, giving the chemical lobby yet another voice inside the agency that regulates it.
Outside the UCS blog, the Washington Post provides more info on at a few of the new additions to the SAB and CASAC, including Anne Smith of NERA. She’s apparently one of the authors of the debunked report on the Clean Power Plan that, among other things, fudged the numbers on the CPP’s benefits by denying the health benefits of reducing particulate matter, specifically what’s known as PM2.5. These are tiny particles in the air (less than 2.5 microns) that come from engine exhaust, fossil fuels, and tobacco smoke, among other pollutants. PM2.5 is the bridge that connects fossil fuel denial with smoking advocacy.
Emily Atkin at the New Republic takes a look at this spate of PM2.5 deniers, warning of Scott Pruitt’s declaration of war on air pollution science.
This war on PM2.5 now includes both the new chairs of the EPA’s advisory boards: Michael Honeycutt for the SAB (who denies all kinds of science and said last year it’d be “a minor miracle” if he were selected) and tobacco and oil-funding recipient Louis Anthony Cox Jr. for the CASAC.
Other members of the new SAB include PM2.5 contrarian Stanley Young, who joins fellow new PM2.5-skeptical members Robert Phalen and Richard Smith. Young’s latest PM2.5 attack was so weak that even normally pro-fossil fuels Koch operative-turned-“reporter” Michael Bastasch included significant skepticism in his coverage of Young’s new research, noting the paper had been shopped around for three years before it finally found a journal willing to publish it.
Reacting to the news yesterday, Steve Milloy echoes Trump’s “winning” catchphrase in one post on JunkScience noting that seven of his suggested nominees were selected, including both chairs, while none of the nominees he opposed were selected. For those curious about how long he’s been advocating for the change to the boards, check out Milloy’s second “winning” post for that years-long history.
It’s painful to see Milloy’s joy at the corruption of science at an agency designed to protect the public health. Given his career of advocating for fossil fuel polluters and running a pro-smoking front group, we know that if Milloy is winning, lungs are losing.
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