Thursday, April 20, 2006

Redistricting the Cancer Map

The good people over at Clean Air Watch have been doing what they can to educate me about the new national air quality standards for particle matter. About once every ten years or so, the EPA reviews the enforcement standards of the clean Air Act.

They say that it is the largest decision that EPA Administrator Johnson will be making this year, and he is under a court agreement to make the final decision by September 27.

The case for stronger clean air standards has been made by organizations like the American Lung Association, the American Medical Association, and even the EPA's own science advisors, the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC). In a letter sent to Stephen Johnson, the scientists officially asked Johnson to reconsider his plan to sell our air quality out to the Dirty Air lobby.

Dirty Air lobby? Who in the world would be for dirty air?

Let's ask Dirty O'Donnell, Republican candidate for Colorado's Seventh congressional district. O'Donnell invited Johnson to have drinks with him, the polluter's alliance, and member's of dirty lobbyist Jack Abramoff's old law firm.

This week was the close of the public comment period, and some of the fans of death and taxcuts sent the request to the EPA to keep the cancer rates as high as their profits.

  The case they made for more fine particle matter in the air, and a total exemption for mining companies, began with these comforting words:

While the EPA is correct that there is important new information in recent studies about the association between ambient fine PM and adverse health effects, the Agency has largely ignored the implications of this information. The results of epidemiological studies indicate clearly that the association between air pollution and adverse health effects is complex and that the health effects cannot be attributed to any single component of the generalized air pollution mixture.

Yes, yes, and while it is clear that the firing squad killed the prisoner, it is shown that the wound pattern was complex and it is difficult to say that any single bullet was fully responsible for doing him in, therefore the barrage was essentially harmless.

What a great argument. Who signed this document? Among the dirty industry groups listed are quite a few of the same names that appeared on the donor list for the night of O'Donnell's potentially illegal lobbypalooza featuring Admin. Johnson. Two examples of people who signed checks to O'Donnell and whose organizations were engaged in lobbying the EPA are Stuart Sanderson, whose Colorado Mining Association is a member of the National Mining Association, and Stan Dempsy whose Colorado Petroleum Association states on it's website  that it "is closely allied with the American Petroleum Institute." Both NMA and API were signatories.

And, of course, we can't forget our friends at Xcel, whose director of Governmental Affairs Roy Palmer was a suprise guest at the event. Xcel is a member of a group of utility companies that also sent in comment requesting continued weak soot standards.

Their argument was also fairly creative. It began by requesting that all the standards be based on current studies, and then requested criteria not covered by current studies. Having no data by which to measure their new criteria, they said their should be no real standards. Current regulations talk about how many bits of tiny junk in the air you are allowed. They insisted that we divide the tiny bits up into many groups, reasearch the toxicity of all of them, and then create new standards based on both size and toxicity. In science spin talk it sounds like this:

For example a January 2000 study by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria identified organic carbon particulates associated with vehicle emissions, especially diesel exhaust, as the major factor for adverse health effects. Acidic sulfates were identified, albiet to a lesser extent, as important factors related to health impacts.

Yes, yes, and while being shot with bullets is hurting the prisoner, we should not just say that using fewer bullets is the answer, but we first must consider the effects of the several different types of bullets we are using and decide which are the most deadly. Therefore we should just keep shooting him at our current rate for ten years, and then review the new literature to see which bullets need to be scaled back the farthest.

I love these people. Dirty Air. Dirty Companies. Dirty Money. Dirty O'Donnell

(And as a postscript, I have discovered that not all O'Donnells are dirty. I want to thank Frank O'Donnell of Clean Air Watch for all of the help he gave me with this post.)


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