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CARB Credibility Issues Heard at the January 28, 2010 Meeting

Credibility at the California Air Resources Board was again questioned at the January 28, 2010 meeting. First, following a presentation on "Proposed Amendments to the Regulations Applicable to Portable Diesel Engines and Diesel Engines Used in Off-Road and On-Road Vehicles", Scott Watson testified that CARB does not follow the law with regard to appointments to the Scientific Review Panel.  He is right and there is a lawsuit by the Pacific Legal Foundation on this very issue.  However, Mary Nichols cut him off telling him that this was not the proper time to make his comments.


Later, during the public comments period of the meeting, Skip Brown of Delta Construction told the board that it was not proper for the authors of a study to be involved in the peer review process.  He also brought up monetary conflict of interest problems with John Froines, the chairman of CARB's scientific review panel. He was dismissed without comment from the board when his three minutes were up.  As he left the podium, he did give the board a clue about their "Factoids" poster and told them that they ought to look up the word factoids to see what it means.


Next Betty Plowman discussed the fact that the American Cancer Society would not release the data upon which many of the studies used in the Hien Tran report were based.  She wanted to see an independent study that took into account the places where the people lived and how they lived.  She wanted to see what other factors besides PM2.5 were the cause of health problems.  Mary Nichols asked if Bart Croes could address Betty's concern.


Bart tried to dismiss the issue and John Balmes chimed in that it was pretty normal for ACS to closely guard their data.  John Telles then wondered how the Tran report could be redone if ACS was not releasing data.  Discussion ensued between John Telles, John Balmes, Mary Nichols and Bart Croes.  Finally they decided that the whole matter would be addressed at the February 26, 2010 workshop to which the public is invited.


Finally as the meeting was to be adjourned, Ronald Loveridge said that even if all the scientists agreed that PM2.5 was a health issue, "These people" would still be attacking the report because for them it is simply about money. Mary Nichols seemed a bit off put by the comment but then said his comment brings up an important point.  She said that many of the groups that have a problem with the tainted Hien Tran report, believe that if they prove it is based on bad science, the rule will be revoked.  'Not true', she says, "Even if there were no premature deaths associated with PM2.5, there still will be a rule". The rule is not about health issues it is about air quality and compliance with AB32.