Thursday, June 28, 2012

EPA accused of "dishonesty"... but the facts tell a different story

EPA came under another polluter-shaped horsewhipping today in a House of Representatives hearing. The focus today was EPA's proposed new standards on fine particle soot.

Although attendance at the hearing was sparce (most of EPA's opponents were probably off somewhere watching misleading initial reports on CNN and Fox about the Supreme Court case and then wretching at the decision), EPA did come in for attack on its "honesty" about the soot standards.

Leading the attack was Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) who accused EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson of "misleading the American people."

Pretty strong words!

Yet Whitfield himself was caught recently misrepresenting the fateful (and unanimous) Supreme Court decision upholding EPA's process for setting national clean air standards

Aligned today with Whitfield was the testimony of Jeffrey Holmstead, former EPA assistant administrator and now a (justifiably) well-paid lobbyist for coal and coal-burning power companies.

Holmstead charged that

EPA is not being fully honest about the burden it will impose on state and local governments, companies and businesses, and American consumers.

He went on to assert that

Once an area is designated as nonattainment, there is essentially a ban on the construction of new industrial or manufacturing facilities in this area, and it becomes very difficult even to expand existing facilities. This happens immediately because of new permitting requirements.

It also becomes even more difficult to build new roads or other transportation projects in areas that are designated as “nonattainment.”

It would be kindly to call this charge an exaggeration. We have asked EPA if it has any actual historic data on construction "bans" or impediments to road building. I believe the facts will show that anything of this sort is rare, limited and short-lived.

We were also struck by the lack of attention Holmstead paid to health issues and resulting improvements to come from reducing particle soot pollution.

Boy did he tell a different tale when he was at EPA himself!

Of the many air pollutants regulated by EPA, fine particle pollution is perhaps the greatest threat to public health. Hundreds of studies in the peer-reviewed literature have found that these microscopic particles can reach the deepest regions of the lungs. Exposure to fine particles is associated with premature death, as well as asthma attacks, chronic bronchitis, decreased lung function, and respiratory disease. Exposure is also associated with aggravation of heart and lung disease,leading to increased hospitalizations, emergency room and doctor visits, and use of medication.

Maybe, as in so many things, it depends on who is writing the check.

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