Yesterday Politico’s Morning Energy reported that the EPA posted nominations for its Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, kicking off a public comment period that ends July 12th. As we covered last week, Politico recently reported that major GOP donor Doug Deason made suggestions for a similar Science Advisory Board (SAB). While we don’t know if he also made suggestions for the Clean Air committee, there certainly are some worrying names on the list.
Politico noted that nominees include Nan Hayworth, who promoted Pruitt during his confirmation, Sabine Lange, who worked under Deason’s preferred nomination-turned-chair Michael Honeycutt, and Deane Waldman of the industry-funded Texas Public Policy Foundation. (If you have something to say about these folks, the preferred mode of public comment is apparently an email to Aaron Yeow, email@example.com.)
Of particular note on the list is James Enstrom, a tobacco-funded air pollution denier who has been championed by Lamar Smith. One of Enstrom’s other big fans is Steve Milloy, who like Deason, seems to have successfully lobbied the EPA on the last round of SAB nominations.
After decades of working on behalf of the tobacco and fossil fuel industries in relative obscurity, Milloy is having something of a moment with the Trump administration, according to Scott Waldman’s E&E profile of Milloy, which Milloy posted in full on his site (and the headline of which recognizes Milloy’s “bedwetting” tic). It seems that despite being pilloried for his industry subservience, Milloy now finding traction at the EPA, telling Waldman that “somehow, by hook or by crook, I have made it through and I'm winning.”
Because he tends to operate in the shadows, it can be hard to see how an obvious industry shill like Milloy (who would only admit to Waldman that his funding comes from “private foundations”) plies his trade. But a series of recent stories can perhaps provide some figurative insight, if not a literal example.
On June 7th, Milloy made a post on his website (originally founded as part of his pro-smoking astroturfing) attacking the work of Herman Muller, who won the 1946 Nobel Prize for the linear no-threshold model of carcinogenesis. The LNT model, as it’s known, has been instrumental in environmental and public health science in that it shows that it only takes a single molecule of a carcinogen to kick off the cellular chain reaction known as cancer. This means that for cancer-causing pollutants, be they from smoking, smokestacks or nuclear radiation, there is no safe or healthy level of those pollutants.
A few days after Milloy’s blog post, reactionary centrist Michael Shellenberger wrote a post for Forbes which, in what is probably a coincidence, also echoes Milloy in his attack on the work of Herman Muller. In the service of the (false) argument that overblown environmental fears are what killed nuclear, Shellenberger claims that the LNT model was “falsified” but still became the basis for environmental fear-mongering about nuclear power. While this is not the first time Shellenberger and Milloy have sung the same tune (they both attacked the Pope, for example), it’s impossible to know if Milloy pitched Shellenberger the anti-Muller content.
Either way, Shellenberger’s fake green credentials gave the argument a sheen of integrity: the Daily Caller’s so-called “energy investigator” Jason Hopkins picked up Shellenberger’s post on Monday.
Milloy’s line of attack, then, started at his shady blog, appears to be amplified by the seemingly respectable Forbes piece by Shellenberger, which then got picked up by an outlet with a close relationship to the EPA, stripped of the toxic association with a career pollution enabler and ready for use in Pruitt’s next crusade against public health.
“By hook or by crook” indeed.
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