New Study Claims To Expose The ‘Science Charade’ Behind Some EPA Regulations

A protestor holds a sign in support of science during the March For Science in Seattle, Washington, U.S. April 22, 2017. REUTERS/David Ryder

From the Daily Caller


Michael Bastasch


A new study highlights how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is able to game the rule-making system to cloak contentious policy decisions as based on science.

Susan Dudley, president of the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center, and Marcus Peacock, executive vice president of the Business Roundtable, published a report to highlight the “perverse incentives involved in developing regulations” as part of EPA’s air quality setting standards.

The report outlines problems in the regulatory process from the way Congress wrote the Clean Air Act to how EPA staff and agency science advisers present the data to the administrator. All this creates a “science charade” to mask controversial decisions, the report claims.

The study also took aim at EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), which is a board of science advisers tasked with reviewing and recommending air quality standards for pollutants.

But the legislative language authorizing CASAC allows them to “make hidden policy judgments couched in scientific terms and attempt to influence” EPA decisions, according to the study.

Recent CASAC panels have been more activist in their recommendations, which is one reason why they’ve been targeted by Republican lawmakers.

House lawmakers passed two bills in 2017 to require EPA to use publicly-available scientific data and limit the conflicts of interest of agency science advisers. Both bills were highly criticized by environmental activists.

The conservative Energy & Environment Legal Institute sued EPA in 2016 based on data showing 24 of the 26 members of a clean air advisory panel had received, or are the current recipients of, EPA grants. In total, panel members received more than $190 million from EPA.

“When questions involving policy judgment and values are falsely characterized as scientific, a small number of people have disproportionate influence on the information that is used and how it is characterized, leading to decisions that are not as accountable or as transparent as they should be,” Dudley and Peacock wrote.

“This is exacerbated by the adversarial nature of rulemaking, by the reluctance of courts to review scientific findings, and by group dynamics that discourage differences of opinion, mask uncertainty, and give short shrift to alternative perspectives,” they wrote.

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July 4, 2017 6:15 pm

But the EPA invented emissions trading didn’t they? And they solved the acid rain crisis with cunning and very clever lies.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  chaamjamal
July 4, 2017 7:27 pm

Not to mention the Ozone hole and fluorocarbons…

Reply to  chaamjamal
July 4, 2017 8:56 pm

24 of the 26 members of a clean air advisory panel had received, or are the current recipients of, EPA grants. In total, panel members received more than $190 million from EPA.
They should be strung up by their nuts. Seriously there is no way this sort of conflict of interest should have ever have gotten started. These people should be serving hard time.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  ferdberple
July 5, 2017 3:21 am

Those 24 members of the clean air advisory panel received an average $7,916,666.67 each, …… assuming some got more and some got less.
That’s good pay for “yes men”.

Reply to  ferdberple
July 5, 2017 8:33 am

I hear the Bahamas is the best place to study the effects of air pollution on the environment.

Ben of Houston
Reply to  chaamjamal
July 5, 2017 9:08 am

Chaam, lake acidity was not a major issue with acid rain, no. This was known when cap and trade was implemented (natural buffers are quite powerful, so it has only short term effects). However, sulfur emissions are detrimental to buildings, structures, and public health. Let them claim the Sulfur cap and trade as a well-earned success. Realistically, that was their finest achievement.
The EPA has gone off the rails in recent years, but don’t forget that they did have a good mission and good progress in the beginning, and there are several critical missions that they still manage. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater

Keith J
Reply to  Ben of Houston
July 5, 2017 9:56 am

Look at the source. Low sulfur coal was the main reason for acid rain decrease. While anthracite had BTU superiority, Powder River Basin coal offered far less sulfur. For all but steel coke, bituminous coal from Wyoming was the answer. Emissions from coking plants was treatable.

Tom Halla
July 4, 2017 6:24 pm

If it looks like a conflict of interest, and quacks like a conflict of interest,. . .

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Tom Halla
July 4, 2017 7:30 pm

Does it become an aflactaion?

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Pop Piasa
July 4, 2017 7:44 pm

Sorry, meant to type “aflactation”. Then remembered that geese don’t quack. for that matter they shouldn’t be selling insurance (geckos either).

Leo Smith
Reply to  Pop Piasa
July 5, 2017 12:27 am

Do geese sell insurance?
I always thought it was rodents.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Pop Piasa
July 5, 2017 4:51 am

The true story of the AFLAC duck is this. AFLAC is a family run business and when they were looking for a new idea they hired a small time, local advertising agency. Getting close to their deadline for a new idea, the two main partners were sitting by a lake wondering what to do when a duck, looking to be feed, waddled up an started quaking at them. One of the guys said to the other that it sounded like he duck was saying AFLAC, The light bulb went off in their heads and thus one of the most identifiable corporate images was born. You should also know that it was Gilbert Godfry who was the voice behind the duck until he was canned over insensitive remarks about the death of thousands from the tsunami in Japan. AFLAC had hundreds of thousands of policy holders in Japan and did in fact pay off for the deaths even when no body was found.

July 4, 2017 7:05 pm

Science is supposed to be adversarial, but they have taken the skepticism that is supposedly at the heart of validating theories out of the process, thus making it political: i.e. it is what someone believes rather than what is or can be demonstrated. Real science is apolitical. If something cannot be demonstrated, no amount of belief is supposed to overcome that. We need to get back to reason in public policy.

Clay Sanborn
Reply to  Phil
July 4, 2017 7:57 pm

Amen, brother.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Phil
July 4, 2017 8:08 pm

Progressive science is based upon whatever a consensus of the authoritarians in that specialty happen to “feel”.

Chris Hanley
Reply to  Phil
July 4, 2017 9:08 pm

“… If something cannot be demonstrated, no amount of belief is supposed to overcome that. We need to get back to reason in public policy …”.
The problem in the Climate Change™ domain is that the fundamental measure, the change in the GAT, is such a slippery value.

Reply to  Phil
July 5, 2017 5:55 am

“reason in public policy.” Does that not qualify to be considered an oxymoron?
The reasoning that is applied to public policy making is being applied to those who are buying elected office holders — and their reason is to have laws passed that put them in the flow of public funds, thus providing an opportunity for them to skim dollars into their own bank accounts. The system is terminally ill. Can you spell F. U. B. A. R.

Reply to  ThomasJK
July 5, 2017 9:46 am

In the two major pieces of EPA water regulation I have become familiar with, I found the scientific and economic justifications for them to be severely lacking. They base some of the regulation on one (one!) flawed sample, throw out real data so they can make limits tighter and select technologies made by their business cronies. It’s as if they start out with the end in mind and then just fill out the blanks with anything that comes along because they know few will read it or even understand it. Amen to FUBAR.

Reply to  Phil
July 5, 2017 7:54 am

It is tragic how many believers in AGW cite consensus as their major argument. As Michael Crichton said, “There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”

Pop Piasa
July 4, 2017 7:33 pm

I think “a science charade to mask controversial decisions” pretty well describes Obama’s last 4 years.

Reply to  Pamela Gray
July 4, 2017 8:46 pm

Wow. Just wow!
Under most circumstances the university would circle the wagons and try and thwart the investigation. In this case the researcher first got caught embezzling from the university, so they will hang her out to dry. Which in turn means any EPA policy based on a lot of years of research is also hooped.

Reply to  davidmhoffer
July 5, 2017 9:02 am

I am reminded of Karl’s fight against transparency of publicly funded science at NOAA, claiming that private internal deliberations among scientists is crucial for their work. In other words, if you saw our discussions on how we are manipulating the data for predetermined results, some of you might lose faith.

Reply to  Pamela Gray
July 5, 2017 4:33 am

“generated experiment data that was altered,” and that “to the extent she altered” it, “she knew the altered experiment data was false,”

Reply to  Pamela Gray
July 5, 2017 5:19 am

Every paper that cites publications with this false data should be reviewed by the authors and those peers that reviewed them.

Reply to  Pamela Gray
July 5, 2017 5:23 am

That’s one brave whistle blower right there….
Fake News…. Fake Science….. It’s all starting to unravel now that Trump has empowered skepticism and criticism of government and their misuse of government money.
Government funding of science is fraught with the potential for corruption and cronyism.

Reply to  Pamela Gray
July 5, 2017 9:50 am

I wonder if this is related to what Steve Milloy has been working on for the health effects of particulate matter.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  oeman50
July 5, 2017 10:08 am

I wouldn’t be surprised if this was related to the PM2.5 debacle. Hopefully this will cause that whole house of cards to collapse.

July 4, 2017 8:36 pm

Eisenhower warned that the growing influence of government-sponsored scientific research risked making public policy the “captive of a scientific-technological elite”. So, this is what it looks like in practice.

July 4, 2017 8:54 pm

Didn’t the EPA declare that CO2 was a pollutant so they could regulate CO2 levels?

Reply to  Muzz
July 4, 2017 10:24 pm

Yes. And those eminent scientists on the Supreme Court said: looks ok to us.

Reply to  Leveut
July 4, 2017 10:48 pm

I think what they really said is “we don’t know, you’re the experts, we’re lawyers”.
As long as the EPA doesn’t violate its charter, there’s nothing a court can do. Congress abdicated responsibility for lawmaking and passed in on to the EPA, an appointed band of activists with no accountability. Congress is the only body that can fix it.

Retired Kit P
July 4, 2017 9:26 pm

I am very happy that our children do not experience the air quality we did growing up.
However, if you need to do a study, I am thinking that you really do not have a problem. It is like organic wine. If you are worried about pesticides in your alcoholic beverage, you have a drinking problem.
There is a sign where we have our boat, we are a drinking club with a boating problem.

Reply to  Retired Kit P
July 4, 2017 10:49 pm

I used to belong to a drinking club with a skiing problem. I know of what you speak…

July 5, 2017 12:16 am

The clue to the solution for this problem is in the name: Environmental PROTECTION Agency. That name says it all about how, like AGW bad and renewables good, the answer was decided in advance and people hired who agreed with that answer. Rename it Environmental MONITORING Agency, hire people whose passion is in monitoring, and forbid any advocacy for what to do about the results of the monitoring.
A separate agency could deal with any law breaking associated with the monitoring results. Put all the zealots there, and give it minimal funding.

David A
Reply to  climanrecon
July 5, 2017 12:54 am

The “zealots” should certainly be put somewhere funded by my tax dollars, but that somewhere is not another bureaucracy, even a powerless one. I am thinking of a much smaller place with excellent security.
BTW, the rumor is Mann has officially blown his court case against Dr Ball, refusing to turn over court ordered data and records.

Reply to  David A
July 5, 2017 4:37 am

Dr. Ball or Steyn ?

Reply to  David A
July 5, 2017 3:59 pm

I found this about Dr Ball

July 5, 2017 1:17 am

In evaluating this report, I think you need to look at exactly who Susan Dudley is and the organisations she has worked for and who funded them.
In short, she has had a career funded by fossil fuel companies.
so is this report unbiased and accurate?

Reply to  Griff
July 5, 2017 4:20 am

Of course it is biased, she worked in wealth creation, so will be biased in that direction.

Reply to  climanrecon
July 5, 2017 7:18 am

Griff thinks.

Reply to  climanrecon
July 5, 2017 9:15 am

In other words, if you see something you don’t like stick your fingers in your ears and sing LALALA(LaLaLalalala), and try not to get distracted by echoing coming from inside your head.

Reply to  Griff
July 5, 2017 5:48 am

In Little Griff’s world, if you grew up in a town with an oil company in it, you were funded by Big Oil and must be ignored. Unless you are saying what he wants to hear, in which case you are God’s own spokesman.

Reply to  MarkW
July 5, 2017 7:23 am

Look at the messenger, not at the message. Let’s assume that the report is both biased and inaccurate. Then say so, show why. Why pull Big Oil in?

Reply to  Griff
July 5, 2017 5:49 am

Ad Hominem, it’s the only debating skill Little Griff has mastered.

I Came I Saw I Left
Reply to  Griff
July 5, 2017 9:34 am

A worn out canard. The sword cuts both ways.

Reply to  Griff
July 5, 2017 11:01 am

What source do you get your information on Dudley from that is not funded by Rockefeller & Soros foundations or other green funds?

Reply to  DCA
July 5, 2017 1:53 pm

You don’t understand. They claim to care about people, therefore they are incapable of bias or error.

July 5, 2017 4:30 am

Isn’t every report biased?
You need to ensure you get the opportunity to read a sufficient reported biased each way to develop a rounded picture of an issue.
The trouble with Griff likes and its fellow travellers is that they only want their bias to prevail.
A very good scientific report should comment on confounding factors but can you expect someone with something exciting to tell to expend the same amount of time looking for negatives to their very exciting discovery/outcome/revalidation etc, that is not human nature.

Reply to  steverichards1984
July 5, 2017 8:33 am

NO, every report is not biased. I often make reports to decision makers on scientific and engineering matters. My reports MUST NOT be biased or I will have misrepresented the facts. If there is a clear choice in any of my reports then it is based solely on the merits of each competing concept. If I misrepresent issues then it will become clearly obvious when the rubber-meets-the-road, or the pudding gets made (choose your metaphor).

old construction worker
July 5, 2017 4:53 am

We know this type of crap has been going on for years. I don’t know the answer to stop it outside of people go to jail and university lose all public funding.

Reply to  old construction worker
July 5, 2017 5:44 am

Yes, people need to go to jail. Yes, a total halt on all public funding of the left wing indoctrination safe spaces which used to be universities.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
July 5, 2017 7:16 am

Showing bias can be very difficult, particularly when the published literature is full of studies that can be cited to support just about any conclusion you can imagine. Showing a material conflict of interest on the other hand, is relatively simple and correspondingly difficult to refute.
The damming fact to me is the 24 of 26 panel members (92%) have a material interest in the continuing good graces of those who administer EPA grants. The smoking gun would be to show there was coordination between the senior EPA policy makers and the grant funding board, and that grant recipients produced research results supporting EPA policy objectives.

July 5, 2017 8:26 am

Funding from EPA is not inherently an indication of bias for environmental scientists. However, the extreme weighting toward EPA-funded scientists is biasing. It eliminates other viewpoints from industry and other scientists. Combined with the collusion between richly-funded activist groups and inviting “hostile” lawsuits that “force” EPA to take actions, it betrays a very one-sided approach that is hostile to economic development or incorporation of non-regulatory solutions to environmental problems. Undoubtedly, this study is biased in favor of industry-friendly viewpoints; but is represents a squall next to the hurricane of one-sided press accounts.

Pat Frank
July 5, 2017 9:07 am

This, “House lawmakers passed two bills in 2017 to require EPA to use publicly-available scientific data and limit the conflicts of interest of agency science advisers. Both bills were highly criticized by environmental activists.” is the heart of the problem.
Environmental NGOs want to use secret so-called science pushed by activist moles.
I’ve little doubt but that the internal EPA activists intended to use regulations to force the social outcomes desired by their NGO handlers. It’s not about clean environment. It’s about stealth control. It’s about dishonesty as morality.

Joe -
Reply to  rigelsys
July 5, 2017 3:58 pm

There are several studies showing that increases in ground level ozone cause an increase in premature mortality (Bell Study of 100 US cities), etc. Another study of 10 french cities during the 2003 western european heat wave concluded that the increased ground level ozone resulted in x% increase mortality. The dilemna in this study was ground level only increased in 5 of the 10 cities while the increased mortality was virtually the same in all 10 studies. Yet, the increased heat had a near 100% correlation, and O3 had at best a 50% correlation, yet the Scientific study concluded the O3 was the cause.

July 5, 2017 10:27 am

I would argue that the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center Working Paper1, Improving Regulatory Science, does not appear to address the single overarching flaw in the process under which the EPA develops regulations. That flaw is how the EPA chooses to apply United Nations Principle 15.
The responsibility of the EPA to rely on scientific studies to guide environmental policy has largely been abrogated since the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 produced the Rio Declaration. That document includes Principle 15 that states: “Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.” This has become known as the Precautionary Principle.
The EPA has adopted the Precautionary Principle to guide environmental policy and essentially by-pass science. For example, with respect to climate change, the EPA interprets the Principle to mean that if one can hypothesize a small possibility of out-of-control global warming, measures should be taken to prevent global warming. The cost-effective part of the principle is ignored. Also ignored is the small possibility of a new ice age. Policies that might be appropriate for the warming case would be diametrically opposite to those appropriate for the cooling case, which I would conclude nullifies any argument to act based on either small possibility of occurrence.
Similar applications of the Principle are used to justify regulations for a host of other environmental issues including air and water quality standards. In every case, the completion of a scientific analysis could be by-passed to expedite the process. Compelling scientific evidence of a threat of serious damage becomes a moot point.
Does this analysis have any merit or am I missing something? Comments welcomed.

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