Steve Milloy, former lobbyist for Big Tobacco turned climate denier, has been enjoying the Trump administration. As part of Trump’s EPA transition team, he laid much of the groundwork for Scott Pruitt’s pro-pollution agenda, including on soot (aka PM2.5 particulate matter) and radiation, the tobacco industry’s secret science plan, and truck gliders.
On Monday, Sean Reilly at E&E reported on Milloy’s latest “YUGE win” on his quest against good science at the EPA: the dissolution of a subgroup of the Clean Air Science Advisory Council.
But his celebration got cut short on Tuesday, when the government’s 2018 Unified Agenda went live, and much of Milloy’s agenda got put on the backburner, per PoliticoPRO.
The Unified Agenda is the government’s gameplan for the next year, including what regulations it expects to finalize, introduce or otherwise move forward on. For example, the administration is planning on finishing it’s repeal of the Clean Power Plan and the auto emission standards by March of next year, and will soon propose a rule to replace Obama’s regulation on new or modified power plants.
But policies put on the “long term” plan are ones they don’t expect to act on over the next year, essentially putting them in purgatory until someone who cares comes along.
What’s on the EPA’s long term agenda? Most importantly, Milloy’s tobacco-industry-originated plan to use transparency as a guise for censoring science. Hurray! Hurrah! Huzzah!
That said, it might be a little too soon to pop the champagne, according to what sources tell Buzzfeed’s Zahra Hirji, but a “sigh of relief” is warranted. Clearly they’re not charging ahead with the policy, but an EPA spokesperson told PoliticoPRO that “this is not a delay” and that they’re still “continuing the internal rulemaking development process,” which will take a while considering there are nearly 600,000 public comments to address.
On top of the stalling of the secret science rule, the glider truck rule repeal got punted, and so did a review of particulate matter in terms of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards as well as other contexts. Both the gliders and the PM2.5 have been key priorities for Milloy, who’s been pushing conspiracies around the glider trucks and been opposed to particulate matter regulations since his pro-smoking days.
Perhaps one of the reasons why the PM2.5 work got shelved is that the EPA just released a new draft report on particulate matter and premature deaths. It found that minorities and children are particularly vulnerable to “impaired lung function” from as little as 5 micrograms per cubic meter, much lower than the current standard of 12 micrograms per cubic meter.
This report will provide additional support for keeping and strengthening particulate matter regulations as it shows that reducing pollution levels below the standard provides additional benefits. Because these soot reductions generate huge benefits, this might change the cost-benefit analysis of many of the regulations Trump is targeting.
For example, Milloy has a new report published by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which was faithfully “reported” on by Jason Hopkins at the Daily Caller, that denies the reality of soot’s dangers, and therefore claims Trump’s auto rollback won’t actually kill thousands of Americans. This stands in stark contrast to the EPA’s findings that even amounts of PM2.5 under the current standard pose a public health threat.
Unfortunately, the draft now goes to the EPA officials and the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee for review, meaning that Milloy’s polluter-stacked advisory panel may yet have the last laugh.
A raggedy, weezing, smoker’s laugh, the kind that collapses into a hacking, bloody cough.
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