California Air Resources Board (CARB) of the California Environmental
Protection Agency (Cal EPA) sponsored a full-day scientific discussion
and debate on February 26, 2010 at the California EPA hearing room in
Sacramento. The unprecedented public meeting was held because of public
outcry against the latest CARB air pollution regulations. Usually
California Environmental laws and regulations are passed with little
debate, after an inevitable scientific review process with written
public comments that are received and filed but have no impact on
has an annual budget of 1.2 billion dollars, 90% of it supplied by fine
and penalty income from California business and industry. CARB and its
allies in the media and the environmental movement are used to having
Not this time, not yet, and that's the story to tell.
Norman "Skip" Brown
is an enthusiastic hunter and fisherman, native Sacramento boy, son and
successor, owner, and operator of Delta Construction Company, Inc., a
67-year-old street and highway construction company. He loves his home
state and wants it to prosper, but his company is on hard economic
times, like many other companies in California. For Skip, CARB is
making things worse because they hate diesel engines -- just hate them
-- and only diesel engines can make big equipment run.
the '90s and early part of this century, Skip volunteered for his
industry and tried to work with CARB to achieve an accommodation
between environmental goals and economic reality. He often found that
agency officials did not understand business, and when he explained
that business assets and business plans could be destroyed by
regulations, compliance costs, fines, or penalties that would reduce
inventory, equipment, bonding, and credit capacity -- and ultimately,
competitiveness -- agency officials had no concern, and they even
suggested that he just raise his prices.
that CARB was not willing to be cooperative, and if he didn't work to
stop CARB excesses, then his California dream would become a nightmare.
James Enstrom, southern California
native, earned a Ph.D. in elementary particle nuclear physics at
Stanford, then received postdoctoral training in epidemiology and a
Masters in Public Health from UCLA. He began his career in 1974 as an
epidemiologist (population researcher) at the Jonsson Cancer Center of
UCLA. Enstrom had a special interest in healthy lifestyle effects like
those of the Mormons, and he cooperated on the American Cancer Society
(ACS) studies of a big cohort (group) of Americans.
2005, Enstrom published his results of a robust and current (50,000
people, 1973-2002) study on the effects of small particle air pollution
in California. He found (here
premature death effect in California from small particle air pollution.
California's air pollution of the '50s and '60s has declined for thirty
years, and Enstrom was also familiar with the improvement in air
quality and the conundrum of increasing rates of asthma that was being
misrepresented by CARB.
When CARB announced another
round of onerous small particle air regulations in 2008, Enstrom's
concern was that CARB was out of control and ignoring the science.
Enstrom concluded that he had to become a public advocate for sensible
science and prevent CARB from causing great harm to California's people
and economy, which would involve economic hardship and shortened life
expectancy. Enstrom became a physicist/epidemiologist who was also a
concerned citizen of the Golden State.
and I met for the first time in late June of 2008 at a symposium on
CARB malfeasance in San Diego. Enstrom brought colleagues to talk about
epidemiology and how CARB air pollution science was misguided and
pushed inappropriate and excessive air rules and regulations. I was
there to talk about human health issues and legal strategies. Skip
Brown came to tell his story of CARB tyranny and hostility to the
business and industry community.
The CARB Toxic Air Machine Project of 2007-2008
In 2007, the CARB Scientific Review Panel "Solicitation" and review
process was set up, involving six "independent" but paid reviewers well
known to, and allies of, CARB. Then CARB staff released in May of 2008
a draft report and proposed regulatory regime, claiming that air
pollution caused premature deaths in California. A public comment
period began, and the CARB business-as-usual process ran into vigorous
submitted by Enstrom and other distinguished public health scientists and engineers in July of 2008.
Criticisms of the CARB Draft Report included:
- 1. Panel reviewers were reviewing their own or their close colleagues' studies.
CARB had discarded the Enstrom study and ignored geographic and time
trend evidence that argued against their conclusions of air pollution
death effects and the need for more regulations.
- 3. CARB had failed to adjust for changes in engines and emissions that also made older studies invalid.
staff minimized the critiques and issued in October of 2008 a final
report that was the same as the preliminary draft report of May 2008.
CARB staff admitted that they didn't show the critiques to the Expert
Panel or request an expert response to the public comments. In December
of 2008, Enstrom and three senior and prominent California Ph.D.
experts directly contacted CARB board members to urge rejection of the
2008 report. The four also wrote a public letter to CARB to recommend
that CARB reassess the report and delay any decision on air pollution
and diesel regulations.
Prior to that, since luck
comes to the well-prepared, Enstrom and Stan Young, Ph.D., a
statistician from North Carolina, found that Hien Tran, lead author of
the CARB report, had a bogus $1,000 Ph.D. purchased from Thornhill
University, which not a university at all. The Enstrom and Brown group
and their allies pointed out the phony Ph.D. to the public, but they
also pursued another scandal -- that CARB had failed to rotate its
Scientific Panel experts, many of whom had been in their positions for
time beyond that prescribed by the law. A lawsuit was filed by Pacific
Legal Foundation in the fall of 2008 with Brown as one of eight party
plaintiffs to force compliance with the law after twenty years of
disregard. The troubles were multiplying for CARB.
Enstrom and Brown group kept pressing in 2008 and 2009. They pointed
out how silly the CARB public relations (propaganda) apparatus was if
it claimed 2,400 lives saved by the new diesel rules on page 6 of the
original Tran report in 2008, here
, and then in 2009 claimed that the new rules would save 24,000 lives here
taxpayer protest was held with speeches and demonstrations at the State
Capitol on August 28, 2009, reinforced by the sound of a 220-truck
convoy sponsored by the Cal Dump Truck Owners Association. The convoy
circled the Capitol Building, and on cue, there was a one minute dump
truck horn sounding. The convoy and the Capitol steps rally on
California agency overreach with speeches were not covered by the
press, but the legislators were there.
industry sectors using diesel engines raised their voices. Dr. Bill
Wattenberg, an engineer and influential talk show host from San
Francisco's KGO, railed against CARB. Bloggers and other radio hosts
joined in. Bryan Bloom, Lee Brown, and Betty Plowman and other trucking
industry people were eloquent in public meetings. Jay McKeeman for the
Independent Oil Marketers, logging industry organizations, Bill Davis
with the Southern California Contractors, and Shelly Sullivan of the
California Manufacturers and Technology Association all pressed for a
CARB suspension of new rules and a sensible agency retreat from its
Assemblyman Roger Niello presented
a bipartisan letter with 52 signers demanding that CARB suspend the new
diesel rules. Senator Dutton and Assemblyman Logue introduced bills to
slow down CARB implementation plans on greenhouse gas and global
warming regulations. The Governator weighed in to advocate a suspension
of regulations until the economy could recover.
The Grudge Match Debate is on
circumstances created a new ballgame on environmental regulations and
rules in California. The board of CARB ordered up the debate or
symposium on the air pollution science in response to the public outcry
and the political realities. Friday, February 26, 2010 -- full day, no
holds barred -- was set.
CARB designated three
experts from the original scientific review panel: Drs. Krewski,
Jarrett, and Pope, well-credentialed and also longtime friends and
beneficiaries of CARB. CARB paid for them to appear, and they argued
that Enstrom and the others were wrong, CARB was right, they were
right, air pollution was a killer, and more regulations were imperative.
the public critics of the CARB team: James Enstrom; Fred Lipfert,
Ph.D.; Robert Phalen, Ph.D.; Roger McClellan, DVM; Suresh Moolgavkar,
M.D., Ph.D; and Tom Hesterberg, Ph.D., MBA. These critics urged no more
regulations and no more exaggerating the science on air pollution
health effects. McClellan and Phalen are past or present expert
panelists for the U.S. EPA on air pollution matters. Lipfert and
Moolgavkar represent more than sixty years of experience in human
health research. Moolgavkar was sponsored by an engine-manufacturing
concern. Enstrom, Lipfert, Phalen, and McClellan were not sponsored.
Hesterberg was en environmental issues and products official for
Navistar, the successor company to International Harvester, which made
my grandpa Hugh Dunn's Farmall Tractor in the '50s and now makes
engines and trucks.
The video webcast notice is here
The webcast is seven hours long and can be found here
debate was full-throated, and the issues were properly vetted. I was
disappointed that there was not a more complete discussion of
epidemiology rules on causation (see my exegesis on epidemiology and
toxicology rules here
), but never let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Will CARB just get up, limp off, and do what it was planning to do all along?
Enstrom, Brown, and their allies are still committed to holding on to the California Dream.
Dale Dunn, M.D., J.D. is an emergency physician and a policy adviser to
the Heartland Institute of Chicago and the American Council on Science
and Health of New York City.