EPA’s suspect science

Its practices have defiled scientific integrity, but proposed corrections bring shock and defiance.

Guest essay by John Rafuse

President Trump’s budget guidance sought to cut $1.6 billion from the Environmental Protection Agency’s $8.1 billion expectation. Shrieks of looming Armageddon prompted Congress to fund EPA in full until September 2017, when the battle will be joined again.

Then EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said he would prioritize Superfund cleanups based on toxicity, health-impact and other factors. The ensuing caterwauling suggested that EPA had no priorities since Bill Ruckelshaus (EPA’s first administrator, 1970-1975). But consider some standard EPA practices:

1. EPA advocates claim the US is unhealthy and dirty. They won’t admit that US water quality has improved dramatically since 1970. They deny that factories, cars and power plants are far more efficient and clean. They ignore that, while most nations continue to cut down forest habitats for fuel, the Lower 48 states have more forest coverage than when the Pilgrims landed in 1620.

They never mention that the US did not sign the 1992 Kyoto Accord, nor that it is the only nation to meet its Kyoto targets. Is it ignorance? malignance? eco-professional propaganda? Yes, yes, and yes.

The United States is one of the cleanest, healthiest nations on earth. Our progress will continue because we rejected the Paris Accord and thus will not cripple our economy, jobs or environmental progress. Other nations must work hard to catch us. They may work hard, but they won’t catch up, and they’ll blame us.

2. Eco-militants at EPA tricked the Supreme Court into letting it label plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide a pollutant. Meanwhile, professional enviros demand “zero tolerance” for pollutants – because they claim “any dose kills.”

However, CO2 is plant fertilizer, the trace gas that makes plant and animal life possible on our planet. Atmospheric CO2 is just 400 parts per million (ppm), or 0.04% of the air we breathe, compared to 21% oxygen and almost 1% argon. Classrooms average 1,000 to 2,000 ppm; US nuclear submarines average 5,000 to 8,000ppm. We inhale 400 ppm and exhale 40,000 to 50,000 ppm.

That means 100 to 125 times the “fatal dose” of a “zero tolerance pollutant” is always in our lungs. We don’t die, because CO2 is not a pollutant and because real scientists know that dosage, not microscopic presence, is the key.

EPA keeps cheating, but dosage always determines poisonous impact. In fact, EPA experiments illegally exposed human test subjects to 10 and even 30 times the levels of fine soot particles that EPA claims are lethal. No one got sick or died, and yet EPA continues its “standards” and lies.

3. DDT saved millions in World War II from death by typhus. By 1970 DDT had helped wipe out malaria in 99 countries, including the USA. Administrator Ruckelshaus appointed a scientific committee to examine claims that the pesticide caused cancer and other problems. The experts said it did not, because dosage determines effect.

Ruckelshaus ignored them, never attended a minute of their hearings, never read a page of their extensive report. He simply banned DDT in 1972. He later said he had a “political problem” due to Rachel Carson’s misinformed book Silent Spring and pressure from the Environmental Defense Fund, and he needed to “fix it.”

Other nations followed suit, banning DDT. Since 1972, some 40 million children and parents have needlessly died from malaria. Today DDT is partially reinstated, but P.A. Offit, Pandora’s Lab, Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong, quotes Michael Crichton, MD: “Banning DDT is one of the most disgraceful episodes in twentieth century America. We knew better, and we did it anyway, and we let people around the world die, and we didn’t give a damn.”

4. EPA knowingly relies on fake science. Data from point-source “pollution” are used to “project” thousands of asthma cases and cancer deaths. EPA “validates” the analyses by “assuming” that each projected death and illness happened to someone who had spent every second of a 70-year life at the point-source – within 6 feet of the measurement point. But Newton’s Law of Inverse Squares proves that dosage wanes by the inverse square of the distance; 5 units of distance cuts dosage impact to 1/25 what it was at its source. At 10 units, the impact is 1/100th. EPA’s analysis is a dishonest, purposeful scam.

The 70-year/6-foot/no-movement assumption makes a joke of all its calculations and projections. EPA has relied on that scam for decades to “prove” need for a non-scientific regulatory remedy for every newly invented threat.

5. EPA colludes with professional environmentalists to “fix” “inadequate” draft regulations. EPA then “settles” cases, pays co-conspirators’ fees with taxpayer funds and wins excessive regulatory powers it sought from the beginning. Parties who oppose the decision never get a day in court, and the “sue-and-settle” cases ensure high costs but provide no health or environmental benefits.

6. EPA covers up crimes. As the auto industry cratered since 2000, Flint, Michigan has lost 25,000 citizens and become poorer and more minority. The 2010 Census Report concluded that 42% of the population was in a “level of poverty and health … not comparable to other geographic levels of these estimates.” Yet EPA (and state and local authorities) did nothing to protect them. What happened?

The 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act delegated compliance to EPA, which typically approves a State Compliance Plan, re-delegates authority, and oversees State and local enforcement. Flint’s drinking water has been lead-poisoned for three years – ever since state and local officials switched water sources to save money with no hearings, approvals or notifications to EPA or affected citizens.

Drinking, tasting and smelling nauseating newly-brown water alerted residents to potential dangers. An EPA expert tested the water in 2014 and wrote repeated warnings to Agency officials. A February 2015 Detroit News report said EPA’s Regional Administrator knew the facts but claimed her “hands were tied.”

Then-EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy forbade the staff expert from meeting, writing or speaking about the issue, and reassigned him. Thus the two most senior and directly responsible EPA officials “washed their hands” of the problem.

But Flint Medical Center tested for lead in the water and sounded the alarm. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added powerful voices. Flint’s mayor and Michigan’s governor took heat until the state’s attorney general initially charged five Flint and Michigan officials with wrongful issuance of permits, and tampering, altering and falsifying evidence. That has now expanded to more than 50 criminal charges against 15 state officials; including one of involuntary manslaughter (an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease took 12 lives).

The two “clean-handed” EPA officials kept mum until June 12, 2016, when Gina McCarthy wrote to Michigan’s governor and Flint’s mayor. Citing “major challenges” and her “long-term” clean water goal, she blamed state and local staffs and old and (newly) over-large piping. She said EPA had no money to help. Will Michigan’s AG indict EPA officials involved in the EPA cover-ups? That would be logical, but don’t bet on it.

McCarthy’s was a nasty letter from a culpable official. Later in 2016, Congress voted $110 million to repair Flint’s drinking water, no thanks to EPA. The work will go on for years as Flint residents get bottled water from EPA and the state.

President Trump’s budget guidance exposed decades-old EPA abuses. The evidence exposes EPA’s lack of mission, commitment and integrity. If EPA would use honest, evidence-based science to protect the nation’s health, it would be a welcome and long overdue change – perhaps a miracle. What’s your bet?


Independent consultant John Rafuse worked for government agencies, a think-tank and an international oil and gas company on energy, trade, environmental, regulatory and national security issues.

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143 thoughts on “EPA’s suspect science

  1. Bill Schuette, Michigan’s AG and a Republican, has had the guts to go after a number of people, including a few he knew personally, and without regard to party affiliation. The charges of manslaughter, in the Flint case, caught a lot of people off guard. Further Schutte’s investigation is not closed, so don’t be surprised if more people are called to the carpet, including current and former employees of the EPA.

    • ” She [ McCarthy ] said EPA had no money to help. ” Sure, they’ve wasted most of their funding chasing invisible, non-toxic gases.

      The total corruption of the EPA’s mandated mission into a partisan crusade against “carbon” is the reason why thousand in Flint were being intoxicated.

      McCarthy has been instrumental in that perversion of the function of the Federal EPA, it is long overdue that she stands trial.

      • The EPA needs to be dissolved and terminated. It is hopelessly corrupted by far-left agenda politics. Legitimate duties can be transferred to the Dept. of Interior.

      • I think so….they have gotten too big.
        Big businesses need big problems to create big money…which makes even bigger businesses
        wash rinse repeat….

        Climate change was finally a big enough money maker to keep them afloat….

      • All this governmental fraud can only be funded because there is a (not)Federal Reserve that wants to destroy the free world. In a sound money system this would not have been possible. To drain the swamp you have to abolish its creator, the (not) Federal Reserve.
        A cancer cannot grow without a blood supply.

      • It seemed to happen almost at once. Within 10 years of its creation the EPA was busy grabbing funds. As it’s budget grew, it became less and less effective.

        The EPA needs de-funding, whatever work it was intended to do has either been done or never will be.

    • According to internet information, Michigan Gov.Snyder is pushing for 40 percent renewables.

      And at the same time, Michigan faces an energy shortfall and is seeking additional electricity supply from Canada.

      Base-load power is needed to back-up renewable energy.

      • What, he wants to get it from SW Ontario’s set of wind turbines? Happily. It may not be available when he wants it.

      • Snyder is a non-factor, he is term-limited out in a couple more years and the state legislature will have none of this, even the dems are walking a tight-rope because many of them represent the poorest districts in Michigan

  2. A good many employees of the EPA have the same sort of educational backround as Gina McCarthy, social science or gut degrees for bureaucrats. So having any idea that the linear-no threshold model is highly dubious does not figure in their planning.

    • Good point, in fact many degrees in areas labeled as “environmental studies” are really poly-sci degrees with a bent toward the jargon of psuedo-life-sciences.

      • Gina McCarty has a BA in Social Anthropology and a MS in Environmental Health Engineering. Not quite women’s studies. ..

      • Tom Halla-

        It always bemuses me that someone with an undergraduate degree that lacks most of the Math, Physics and Engineering curriculum of a conventional undergraduate engineering program, is somehow able to complete a graduate degree in ‘Environmental Engineering’.

      • McCarthy’s masters was in Environmental HEALTH Engineering, which I suppose does not really have such rigor.

      • Tom Halla June 21, 2017 at 12:55 pm

        … MS in Environmental Health Engineering.

        courses, overview, course requirements

        Looking at a first semester course, CEE 167, I note that it doesn’t really have any rigorous prerequisites. It demands only “Sr. standing recommended or consent”.

        This nominal Master of Science degree doesn’t seem to require any previous science background. It’s like all those MBAs that require no previous exposure to business or administration.

        I agree with Chris, it looks like a joke. For those who aren’t aware of it, a Master’s Degree in Engineering (usually an MSc) will not qualify one to practice as an engineer … not even close.

      • I have posted some of this before, but worth repeating. There is no question that the US EPA has been politicized along with so-called environmental science curricula and texts. I taught environmental assessment and management in the 80s–mid 90s and saw this develop. I dealt with the EPA on and off from their inception. Many employees, including lower administrators (lab directors, etc.) have been well trained, including some of my own students, who still work there or in related agencies. They have real degrees, sometimes postgraduate, as stringent biology majors, often with at least some exposure to toxicology, pathology and parasitology, some with chemistry minors, etc. No doubt some of this has been lost, but I can still dig up good papers coming out of at least some of their laboratories.

        While there is no question about the exceptional improvement of air and water quality (I saw the Houston Ship Channel in the late 50s, about as bad as it gets, now fish swim there, many other examples), recent problems are evidence of the practical importance of the profession, and also as insight into how things work. DDT is a chlorinated hydrocarbon, was misused, with others related more toxic, some which produced more evident problems. Essential elements to life can be toxic in certain forms and concentrations. Put your hand in a bag of fertilizer, if you doubt this. Presumably readers here don’t need to be told this, but not sure about environmental science majors (and even some who should know better) nowadays.

        We have become complacent about toxins and disease, despite (because of, related to ?) the hyperbole. A logical approach to this will not be easy. Purges are simpler, but I have seen the “baby thrown out with the bathwater” and it is not pretty. Actually that may have happened some in the EPA leading to the current problem.

      • Or partial differential equations to understand space-time distribution of contaminants?
        Or solving the diffusion equation for transport of toxic chemicals?
        More likely they studied political science, Marxist sociology, and such things.

      • Actually at the NOAA ESRL conferences I’ve gotten to “inverse Legrangian” back interpolation of spread from sources seems to be a technique de jour adding a cachet of competence to one’s talk .

        Statistical and measurement techniques they learn ; essential physical theory , not so much .

        My continuing complaint is that the field is conducted more like a social science rather that a branch of applied physics with century settled non-optional quantitative theoretical fundamentals .

  3. During the ’70s the EPS discovered that if rats are used as test subjects they will develop cancer.
    They also determined that rats will die from excess carbonation from diet soft drinks before they even detect the sugar substitutes their systems.

    • The study did not find any correlation between the pollutants and deaths on a short time scale.
      Likewise smoking does not have any short time correlation with death. ie weekend smokers do not die on the Monday in preference to other days of the week.
      Like cigarette smoke air pollutants do not have an immediate effect on death.

  4. in item 4 the pollutant concentration doesn’t work on the inverse square law….it’s more a function of wind speed and direction. there’s also obstacles that can affect concentration….this is sort of what happens in California…..

    • It would seem that for a point source with diffusion only, the concentration would vary as the inverse cube of the distance.

      • Square or cube, this statement is unsound: “5 units of distance cuts dosage impact to 1/25 what it was at its source. At 10 units, the impact is 1/100th.”

        So at 5 inches or at 5 miles the dosage is the same (1/25th what is was at the source)???

        Make that: “5 units of distance cuts dosage impact to 1/25 what it was at one unit from the source.. At 10 units, the impact is 1/100th.”

      • yes, inverse sqr law is simple geometry and only applies to things like light or other fields which radiate in an isotropic manner.

      • Exposure to a pollution source is not isotropic if the source is near the ground, of it there is a wind taking a plume in one direction, like nearly 100% of emitted pollutants.

    • “Newton’s Law of Inverse Squares” only applies to gravitational attraction. It has nothing to do with the diffusion of pollutants in the atmosphere.

      • inv sqr applies to electricity and magnetism as well as gravity and is a result of simple geometry. It applies to just about anything which is propagating freely, equally in all directions.

        It does not apply to diffusion of gases or pollutants, with or without wind.

      • Always need to read whether the definition specifies “point source”. It makes a difference.

  5. And what is the end game for the EPA? I recall a story from several years ago about how the local chapter of the EPA was concerned about future funding since so few companies were paying penalties for polluting, because so few companies were polluting. If the end game is to limit pollution and that goal is achieved, shouldn’t the EPA be downsized?

    • Yep. They did a good job in 70s and 80s . They are now looking for things to regulate in order to justify their own politically motivated existence.

    • Sorry – Late to the game (workload stopping me from near-real-time reading of my favorite website!). As I have posted in the past, EPA is just coming up with new man-made materials found in drinking water to control, see:

      https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/drinking-water-health-advisories-pfoa-and-pfos

      Teflon and other related compounds known as Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS).

      And the recommendation for levels of these compounds in drinking water?

      70 parts per TRILLION (ppt). You read that right – PPT. A bit of perspective regarding ppt:

      ‘Parts per trillion (ppt) is the number of units of mass of a contaminant per 1,000,000,000,000 parts of
      total mass. Mathematically, one part per trillion is expressed as 0.000000000001.’

      1 ppt Analogies:

      1 square inch in 250 square miles
      1 second in nearly 32,000 years
      1 ounce in 7.5 billion gallons of water

      While the jury appears to still be out regarding demonstrable toxicity to humans based upon the literature available, this ‘newly-discovered’ drinking/ground water contaminant may be able to provide the EPA with requirements for sampling, analysis, placed upon owners of drinking water/storm water systems therefore control of human activities for many years to come. Most of the PFOA and PFOS releases have been in the past, apparently associated with Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firefighting_foam – I know Wiki, right?) and found highly concentrated where fire fighters have been training for years to control mostly aircraft accident incidences or where water sources are not readily available to fight fires – therefore military bases (crash response training), HAZMAT accident response training centers, and the like.

      This is the thing that may cause the EPA to bio-persist as an institution….

      Hopefully some are still checking this thread?

      Regards,

      MCR

      • “1 square inch in 250 square miles”

        AKA the “Linear No-Threshold” model.

        A regulator’s dream, every business must certify that they are conforming to regulations based on the LNT BS, and those who can’t are put out of business, leading inexorably to this tomfoolery:

        At a news conference last week in Brussels, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity but to destroy capitalism.

        “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said.
        Referring to a new international treaty environmentalists hope will be adopted at the Paris climate change conference later this year, she added: “This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history.”

        http://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/climate-change-scare-tool-to-destroy-capitalism/

      • “1 square inch in 250 square miles”

        AKA the “Linear No-Threshold” model.

        A regulator’s dream, every business must certify that they are conforming to regulations based on the LNT BS, and those who can’t are put out of business.

        Of course, there are a practically endless number of substances that can be regulated , so the regulation industry will increase exponentially.

        I suppose it beats working for a living, just think of all those Global UN-organised conferences there are to attend.

  6. Just anecdotal, but the oxygen sensors we used at the brewery when cleaning and pushing yeast out of fermenters were set to alarm at 19% – so we were good up to 200,000 ppm CO2.

    • How do you get there?

      If you are implying that 1% drop in O2 is CO2, then 1% is 10 per mil or 10,000 ppm, not 200,000 ppm

      200,000 ppm is 20%. You’d be unconscious or in coma.

      • Air is about 21% oxygen by volume. So a decrease from 21 to 19% would be the mixing of 9 volumes of air with one volume of other gas say (carbon dioxide) would reduce the amount of oxygen by one tenth to become about 19%. ; the nitrogen going from 78% to about 70% this is therfore 100 000 ppm of CO2. This is about the level at which people would becoming unconcious within minutes to the exposure and starting to die. 200 000 ppm would probably be fatal.

        Despite who some people stating that carbon dioxide is not dangerous it will kill . This is not a purely asphixiating process as the replacement of the CO2 with an inert gas would still be a viable atmosphere.

  7. One reason CO2 levels are allowed/regulated relatively high on a submarine is it cuts down on the fire danger. And the levels used still don’t suffocate the crew, even with O2 levels lower than normal atmospheric conditions.

    • PAGE/ UN Partnership for Action on Green Economy

      “Putting sustainability at the heart of economic policy and practice to advance 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

      PAGE is a partnership between:

      UN Environment
      ILO/International Labor Organization, Geneva
      UNDP
      UNIDO
      UNITAR

      ” The PAGE Secretariat is hosted by UNEP …”

      http://www.un-page.org

      Who is putting pressure on Congress to continue funding the EPA?

      • “Who is putting pressure on Congress to continue funding the EPA?”

        I’m guessing it is the Republican RINO’s. The Democrats are not a factor, so who else could it be?

        RINO’s are worried the Democrats will use any cuts at the EPA as ammunition against them in the next election. They don’t want to give the Democrats any reason to criticize them, so, therefore, they are paralyzed into inaction. In other words, they are worried about themselves and not the nation, which makes them worthless.

        The rest of this year is going to show us just which Republican lawmakers we need to replace in the next election. There are at least five Republican Senators who voters should seriously consider replacing with reasonable, unselfish Republicans. I think most people know who these five are, and could probably add a few of their own.

        We are watching you, Republicans. Thwart Trump’s agenda and you are going to pay for it at the polls.

      • GGKP/ Green Growth Knowledge Platform, Geneva

        Est. 2012 by:

        GGGI
        OECD
        UNEP
        World Bank

        GGGK Partners include:

        Global Green Growth Institute
        International Center for Climate Governance
        ICLEI
        IISD, Canada
        ILO
        OECD
        SPI/Smart Prosperity Institute, Canada
        UNDP
        UN Environment
        UNIDO
        UNITAR
        World Bank Group
        WWF
        And others

        Click on the logos for more information.

        http://www.greengrowthknowledge.org/partners

  8. John Rafuse, thank you for a clear exposition of the EPA recent misadventures, as well as noting great successes in the past. Perhaps a new broom will sweep the place clean, and restore lost competence, There is some indication that things are moving that direction, with the departure of more entrenched scientific advisors. Who know? At this rate, maybe the Red Team will set up shop at EPA.

    https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/updated-epa-swamp-life-climategaters/

    • Thanks Ron,
      The Yes Prime Minister Global Warming Part 2 episode referenced on your site is hilarious. Guess I’m biased but it has to be one of the funniest, and probably one of the most accurate, episodes I’ve seen. For those that haven’t seen it yet: https://vimeo.com/124392955

    • That’s also a very informative article on the Swamp and the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) n your site. Thanks for that as well.

  9. EPA’s around the world have their place. I recall as a younger person in the 60’s and for many years later that pink haze around cities called smog and it was toxic, believe me, as I had a particular allergy to it.

    All that reasonable Legislation was acceptable but the modern iteration of these EPA’s and their like are simply monsters seeking not to redefine the environment but to redefine our lives in totally unacceptable ways.

    Time for a total refresh. The intrusion into our lives needs to come to an abrupt end!

    • It’s like the painter wanting to stick around…after the house is painted

      They will have to keep inventing pollutions to justify themselves…and climate change has been a God send for them

  10. If CO2 is a pollutant then so is water vapor- for the same reason. So where are the people who should be trying to stop evaporation from occurring? :)

  11. “…the Lower 48 states have more forest coverage than when the Pilgrims landed in 1620.”

    The US definitely has more forest coverage now than when it was primarily an agrarian economy, but the above claim is dubious .

    • Correct. It has more forest cover than in 1900, thanks mostly to changes east of the Mississippi. Greater farm productivity, less need for farmland. Used to hunt grouse in central Massachusetts where the woods are filled with the remains of old stone field walls. Farmers had to move the glacial stones from working fields to the edges in order to plow and harvest.

      • It would be nice if the false claim were corrected to say that, or at least provide a source for such a dubious claim.

        The only explanation I could think of is that forests in western North America have likely expanded since 1620 because the area was still coming out of a lengthy period of drought that has been discussed several times on WUWT.

        http://www.kgs.ku.edu/Hydro/Publications/2012/OFR12_18/KGS_OF_2012-18.pdf
        Scroll to page 10

        Juniperus virginiana is doing everything it can to spread west but it’s heavily controlled by farmers. I blame the westward expansion on the end of said drought, when sand dunes literally blew across millions of acres across what is now grassland, but wildlife officials say the spread is due to man, go figure. I told a group of WAFWA biologists about this climate shift at a meeting for prairie chicken habitat assessment — being extorted onto all industry in the declared official habitat area — but they just got that glazed over look.

      • Although not forests, the many trees planted in neighborhoods as well as orchards provide a little increase in the arboreal coverage – particularly in drier regions where irrigation has made this possible.

      • Robert T

        One of the contributing factors to the expansion of forests was the planting campaign as a make-work project in the 30’s. Many, many millions of trees were planted where there had been few to none before. It was not generally speaking a reforestation project so much as an afforestation project.

        In general, a line of trees was planted on a vast scale. As the Eastern forest has rebounded since the late 40’s, it is possible that the total is greater than it was when the entire Plains area was burned each year. Original forests that were cut have been replanted and are now in 70-100 year rotations.

        Southern Ontario definitely has less forest cover than before because it is farmed from end to end, but the north of Canada has been warming since 1700. The treeline is moving north closer to the earlier limits. All of that expansion is additive.

        A related figure is the % of absorption of AG CO2 within the USA. I have heard 50-80%, largely because of expansion of the Eastern deciduous forest. I have never seen a justification for the claim.

    • The hardwood forests of the Northeast, eastern Midwest and South were cut or burnt down in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries to make room for corn crops, so the “since the Pilgrims” claim is plainly false. Indians practiced slash and burn, so were always shifting their crops.

      • Native Americans regularly burned Eastern forests, making them open park lands to encourage bear and deer populations.

      • Yes, as I noted, they practiced slash and burn farming, as do Amazonian Indians today, but they never cut down the whole forest, as did European settlers.

    • A large part of the increase in forrest coverage is attributed to fighting forrest fires through various methods also.

    • By the most reliable figures (or the least unreliable, take your pick) – the claim is accurate.

      However, it is obviously not complete. We have far less wild prairie coverage – and that figure has been dropping disastrously with the Green ethanol mandates encouraging the use of formerly marginal land.

    • In 1630 US forest land covered 46% of the total land area. In 2012 it covered 33%, so a clear decrease. Source: USDA US Forest Resource Facts and Historical Trends

      • The likely reason is that forests in the west were regularly ravaged by fires from lightning strikes in the old days. They are thicker now due to fire suppression.

      • “I am unsure how the 1630 figure can be anything other than a total guess?”

        You asked the right question. Funny how we put such stock in numbers like this.

      • Is that 1630 AD number of 46% with an uncertainty of 20%?

        We should not underestimate the influence of native practices. The northern regions of Alberta that are now clear, were not naturally so. They were burned deliberately each year to create grazing for deer. The area West of Edmonton to the foothills was treeless because of fire and land management by, among others, the Stoney First Nations people. It is now heavily forested with trees of all the same height. Someone stopped the annual burning and the forest took over (again) after centuries of forest suppression.

    • Don’t know if the claim is good or not…But in the PNW we certainly have more trees than we did before the area was settled. After harvesting the trees must be replanted and they generally get replanted at a much higher density then a “natural” forest would have. You can truly walk around in a forest of virgin or old growth trees, good luck trying that in an area that was recently replanted. The trees are so close you literally would have to take a saw with you and cut a trail through the trees to go anywhere.

  12. EPA needs to be reformed and downsized. Rather than recognize it has been successful and is now less needed, its bureaucrats continues to invent new missions beyond the point of diminishing marginal returns =0. The linear no threshhold fantasy is an enabler of this. Both WOTUS and CPP are unconstitutional over reach. The PM2.5 experiment scandal exposes shonky science. The Gold King mine disaster exposes field incompetence. It maybtake a while, but Pruitt is likely up to the needed swamp draining.

    • ristvan – Off Topic
      0ne of the highlights last year was your visit and involvement at the NOAA hurricane center HQ during hurricane Matthew.

      Is there a possibility that this will be a regular annual feature to look forward to.

      Regards

    • OZ, sure, as long as the potential hurricane is in my vicinity. I predicted that one wasn’t, despite annoying condo requirements to the contrary.

    • “Rather than recognize it has been successful and is now less needed, its bureaucrats continues to invent new missions beyond the point of diminishing marginal returns”

      That is the principal job of bureaucrats: Perpetuate the bureaucracy and, if possible, get its funding increased.

      This is why we want as few bureaucrats as possible trying to run our private business. The smallest government possible, that can get the job done, is the one that is preferable. This philosphy is only detrimental to bureaucrats. For the rest of us, the fewer bureaucrats, the better.

  13. Pretty haphazard with facts here. The Kyoto protocol was not 1992, but 1997. What did happen in 1992 was the UNFCCC, of which Kyoto was an extension. And the US did sign that, sent by Pres Bush to the Senate, and adopted almost unaminously.

    Newton’s Law of Inverse Squares has nothing to do with whatever is being talked about in Sec 4.

    A very one sided account of the DDT decisions. It doesn’t mention that the EPA had been ordered by the DC Appeals Court in 1971 to commence action to Ban DDT, nor that the pesticide manufacturers subsequently appealed and lost, with the Appeals Court declaring:

    On review of the decision and Order of the EPA Administrator, we find it to be supported by substantial evidence based on the record as a whole. Furthermore, we find that EPA has provided the functional equivalent of a formal NEPA report. Therefore, the two challenges raised concerning the Administrator’s decision to cancel DDT registrations are rejected and the Administrator’s action is affirmed.

    • You are half-right on your second point regarding the Kyoto Protocol. The US envoy signed onto the treaty, but because it was a treaty it had to be approved by the senate, which it never was. Here is the excerpt from Wikipedia regarding the US’s non-ratification.

      “The US signed the Protocol on 12 November 1998, during the Clinton presidency. To become binding in the US, however, the treaty had to be ratified by the Senate, which had already passed the 1997 non-binding Byrd-Hagel Resolution, expressing disapproval of any international agreement that did not require developing countries to make emission reductions and “would seriously harm the economy of the United States”. The resolution passed 95-0. Therefore, even though the Clinton administration signed the treaty, it was never submitted to the Senate for ratification.

      When George W. Bush was elected US president in 2000, he was asked by US Senator Chuck Hagel what his administration’s position was on climate change. Bush replied that he took climate change “very seriously”, but that he opposed the Kyoto treaty because “it exempts 80% of the world, including major population centers such as China and India, from compliance, and would cause serious harm to the US economy.”

      “As of 2016, the US is the only signatory that has not ratified the Protocol.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyoto_Protocol

      It would seem that even back on 1997 the US senate disapproved of treaties with other countries which would put the US at an economic disadvantage. So many parallels to today’s politics. Have we moved forward at all?

      • The U.S. Senate did vote 95-0 against Kyoto.

        I bet it would be a similar number if the Paris Accord was put up for a vote. There’s no way the Democrats could sell the obviously unfair Paris Accord to the American people. The Paris Accord is almost exactly the same as the Kyoto agreement in that it exempts most of the rest of the world while restricting the U.S., which would harm the U.S. economy, and on top of that would require the U.S. to pay billions of dollars annually into a Green Climate Fund. Money which goes to the 80 percent who are exempted from any obligations.

        I have heard no liberal on tv defending the details of the Paris Accord and that’s because there is no defense of this terrible agreement.

        Just like the Iran nuclear agreement Obama made, the Paris Accord allowed other signatories to benefit greatly without placing restrictions on their actions, soley in order to get these nations to sign on to these agreements, so Obama could present himself as a great deal maker.

        Who wouldn’t sign up to something that requries nothing from you and will be financially beneficial to you? Noone I know.

        But we are in good shape now because Trump is going to fix all these bad deals. :)

      • @Latitude I was in middle school during those years so I wasn’t paying too much attention to politics, but that one I did know. It didn’t seem to make a difference though, since the Byrd-Hagel Resolution was unanimously passed by the US Senate. Even the Democrats knew a bad deal for America wasn’t going to get them re-elected.

        @Nick I don’t really care what the UNFCCC approves of or does, they do not control the United States. The Kyoto treaty was never ratified by the Senate, and therefore has no effect on America’s economy. Funny story though, I believe that we are the only country to have met our goals set forth in that treaty. Canada actually pulled out back in 2012, citing the enormous fines they would have to pay for increasing their CO2 output by nearly 20% from 1990 levels rather than reducing it.

        @TA The Kyoto treaty was never sent to the US Senate for a vote, the Clinton administration knew exactly what would have happened. This is specifically stated in my first comment as an excerpt from the Wikipedia article.

      • “@TA The Kyoto treaty was never sent to the US Senate for a vote,”

        The vote in the U.S. Senate was a “sense of the Senate” vote which expressed the U.S. Senate’s position on the Kyoto treaty. The U.S. Senate voted 95-0 in this vote, and this is why Clinton never submitted it to the Senate, because it would have been voted down about 95-0.

        Btw, even though the U.S. did not abide by the Kyoto agreement, the U.S. still met the emissions requirements set out by Kyoto, and I don’t believe any other country met their emissions requirements, even the ones who stayed in the agreement.

        The U.S. will probably do a pretty good job of reducing CO2 emissions in the future, too, what with using more natural gas, and if we get smart, a lot more nuclear energy. Meanwhile, Germany and all the other whiners about Trump dropping out are not making their goals on reducing CO2.

      • In 1997, the Senate voted 95-0 expressing the “sense of the Senate” that it would not sign a treaty that:

        (A) mandate new commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the Annex I Parties, unless the protocol or other agreement also mandates new specific scheduled commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for Developing Country Parties within the same compliance period, or

        (B) would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States; and

        (2) and any such protocol or other agreement which would require the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification should be accompanied by a detailed explanation of any legislation or regulatory actions that may be required to implement the protocol or other agreement and should also be accompanied by an analysis of the detailed financial costs and other impacts on the economy of the United States which would be incurred by the implementation of the protocol or other agreement.

        In 1998, the Clinton administration signed an agreement that violated (A). Nor did they submit the treaty and accompanying information to the Senate for approval.

    • Agreed, Nick.
      This particular thread has a higher than normal incidence of unsupported assertions and wild ideas. The neat solution, as always, is to provide a reference to the primary source, as we all know – or should know.
      Geoffstuff

  14. CO2 is NOT fertilizer for plants — it is their FOOD. Trees, for instance, get 90% to 95% of their mass from carbon dioxide. The miracle of photosynthesis uses the energy from the sun to convert water and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates (and hydrocarbons) and releases oxygen, All plants, and therefore almost everything we eat comes from CO2. Not just a little bit from CO2, most of it comes from CO2.
    I don’t know what they teach as science in schools these days, but they seem to be ignorant of these fundamental facts of biology.

    • Yup. Skeptical sound bites need to be as precisely accurate as possible. Plant food. Plant fertilizer is soil micronutrients like especially fixed nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, all essential for plant metabolism. Hence NPK general synthetic fertilizers in various ratios like 10/5/5 depending on soil.

      • Define food, define fertiliser.

        What you are saying is the equivalent of saying meat and potatoes are food but peas and lemons and salt are only fertiliser. It’s a meaningless distinction.

      • gnome on June 21, 2017 at 3:53 pm

        Define food, define fertiliser.

        What you are saying is the equivalent of saying meat and potatoes are food but peas and lemons and salt are only fertiliser.

        Peas are food.

        Lemons and salt are food supplements.

    • No, actually, it’s fertilizer. The other elements are food too, and they’re also fertilizer. There isn’t an analog in zoology, that’s one of the definitional differences between it, and botany. Anything that makes plants metabolize food is fertilizer and their food is glucose.

    • The fact that there are not bug depressions around each tree prove that CO2 is the main source of the biomass in a tree. Soil moisture, micro-nutrients in the soil also are necessary for healthy trees.

  15. Add in suspect mining engineering/engineering management at the Gold King mine and extreme advocacy agenda pandering and you have a pretty toxic brew.

    • More than HR management problems.

      There are zealots in the EPA that still praise him … “self deluded” zealots and “ends justify the means” zealots.

  16. As we keep learning, those with the best catch phrases win the public debate. We need to replace “CO2 is plant fertilizer” with a more powerful message that has the added benefit of being true.
    Fertilizer is broadly defined as something added to increase fertility.
    Saying “CO2 is plant fertilizer” implies CO2 boosts the process, but is not really necessary. Plants in the wild grow fine without fertilizer, but drop CO2 below 180 PPM and watch the trees and animals and insects die off. (I did not mention humans, because many would see that as a benefit. And some days…)
    CO2 levels have steeply declined since life began on earth. CO2 bounced like a gas gauge hitting empty (180 PPM) at the end of the last seven ice ages? Will it always bounce back just enough to sustain life?
    CO2 is by orders of magnitude the most limited input for photosynthesis. The modern atmosphere only holds a 2X supply of CO2 to meet the requirements for absorption by C3 plants.
    How do we convey the fact that atmospheric CO2 is as important to life as sunlight and water? And that CO2 is the only life giving input close to exhaustion?

    • Exactly, we need much more of it not less. Declaring it a pollutant is a crime against life. It is like the final solution in nazi germany. We need a new Nuremberg court.

    • Since plants make their own food, ie sugar, CO2 isn’t technically either fertilizer or food, but the main compound in plant food production. However IMO as shorthand, it’s more correct to call CO2 plant food than fertilizer.

      In photosynthesis, sunlight breaks water molecules into H and O atoms. Then the H atoms combine with CO2 molecules to form glucose, while the O atoms combine to form O2 gas, which is released as a waste product of the process. This free oxygen was at first the deadliest pollutant ever known in the history of life, until animals, fungi and other aerobic organisms evolved to use the stuff, and until solar UV turned it into ozone, making life on land possible.

      It is an outrage that the EPA got away with calling the essential, vital trace gas CO2 a pollutant. Earth needs two or three times as much as our air now holds, not less plant food.

      • The evolution of photosynthesis, so denigrated by CACA adherents, is arguably the second most important event in the history of life on earth, after the evolution of the DNA-RNA-protein synthesis and replication process itself, by the first prokaryotes. The only event comparable to it might be the evolution of eukaryotes through the endosymbiosis of archaea, bacteria and viruses.

        Oxygenic photosynthesis, i.e. the biosynthesis of carbohydrate from CO2 supported by light-dependent ATP formation and production of O2, evolved at least 2.7 billion years ago. But it took another 300 or 400 million years for oxygen gas to accumulate, due to its uptake by iron and other elements.

        Photosynthesis appears to have evolved only once, among a group of purple sulfur chemosynthetic bacteria, giving rise to the first cyanobacteria. Once iron in the oceans had absorbed as much oxygen as it could, the poison gas began building up, reacting with methane and nearly wiping out the anaerobic microbes of that day. But this lethal pollutant also gave us the protective ozone layer, many new minerals, animals and fungi, among other benefits. And at least some anaerobes found places to hide, survive and thrive, unfortunately in the case of Clostridium botulinum.

      • Cyanobacteria are remarkable organisms. Many are also able to reduce nitrogen and carbon dioxide under aerobic conditions, a fact that may be responsible for their evolutionary and ecological success.

        Among the most successful are those whose endosymbiotic ancestors evolved within their eukaryotic hosts to give the world algae and eventually plants.

      • If EnviroN@zis had been around 2.3 billion years ago, they would have wanted to control those evil polluters, cyanobacteria, and punish them for their noxious emissions.

        So that today there’d be no plants, animals or fungi, nor unicellular aerobic organisms.

      • Maybe the best formulation is to call CO2 the most vital plant nutrient. It contributes by far the greatest mass to each sugar molecule formed. The protons from water are important, of course, by without CO2, they would have nothing to do.

  17. Sorry, this article by ‘guest’ is absolutely horrible. This is contrarianism for the sake of contrarianism. No more by this ‘guest’ person please.

  18. It is certain that every Federal agency is loaded with useless bureaucrats doing things of no positive value whatsoever. I see no reason why Federal employees should be a protected class. Cut, cut, cut.
    In the private sector, one tactic is to cut personnel like crazy and make the remaining workers do the load. At some point, the managers get a better feel for how many workers they need. They can jettison useless programs (like CO2 reduction) and concentrate on things like pollutants. Sounds extreme, but there, I said it.

  19. “He simply banned DDT in 1972.”

    DDT was largely not affective by then because mosquitoes were resistant due to DDT over use.

    And DDT was killing off our eagles by thinning their egg shells.

    I like eagles.

  20. Not sure if Perry and Platoon of Confederates will survive inside EPA; It’s like an “all die” scenario from StarCraft. Maybe the Firebats will join and Flame the Obama VC!

  21. If CO2 is a polutant then so must be DHMO, aka. di hydrogen monioxide, hydrogen hydroxide, H2O, water vapor. It should be illegal to possess at any time any amount of these substances or anything that has been derived from these substance including all forms of hydorcarbon life. After all, molecule per molecule, DHMO is a much stronger LWIR absorber than than CO2. Considering conduction and convection , the non greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere traps more heat eneregy than the so called greenhouse gases because the non greenhouse gases are such poor radiators to space. So N2, O2, and Ar should also be removed from the Earth’s atmosphere. Doing so will definitely cause cooling. Let us save the Earth by turning it into a dead world devoid of all life.

  22. And then there is the Space Shuttle Columbia that was doomed largely because NASA had to use inferior insulation as a result of the fraudulent CFC science propagated and enforced by the EPA.

  23. Every government organisation will in time be taken over by political zealots and rent seekers who will force out any quality it once had.

    The only antidote is to close a department after say 15 years as mandatory policy and start a new one to address the real problems of the age.

  24. The EPA in 2010 had 17.380 employees! with an increase rate of .7% which would put them over 18,000 employees today. You can’t drain the swamp without reducing the size of each and every department.
    A 1.6 Billion budget cut is a great start.

  25. To call it a “suspect science” does not go far enough. As currently constituted, global warming “science” is a pseudoscience as its models do not make “predictions.” Instead, they make “projections” and while projections are often confused with predictions the ideas that are referenced by the two ideas differ.

    • Oops, please substitute “terms” for “ideas” in the second usage of the term “ideas” in the phrase “ideas that are referenced by the two ideas.”

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