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John Balmes and Danial Sperling: Two Delusional Board Members

John Balmes
Danial Sperling

Are these two stupid, delusional or simply lying? In a letter to the Editor of the San Diego Union Tribune, John Balmes and Daniel Sperling scold the paper for daring to challenge the integrity of the California Air Resources Board in a November 22, 2009 editorial. In a particularly ridiculous comment they actually refer to the California Air Resources Board as "perhaps the premier government agency in the state". They must have gotten into the nitrous oxide supply and totally forgot about CARB's MTBE scandal or how they destroyed all those diesel engines with untested reformulated gasoline.

Besides, they say, the full board did not even know about the fraud of Hien T. Tran and his dime store PHD when they voted. But John Balmes did know and made the choice not to tell the other board members for fear that they might think that the report was written by "an unqualified lier". They go on to state "No one has questioned the accuracy or integrity of the report". What about James Enstrom and others who have been trying to get the data that was used for the report from CARB?

Finally they point out that "The employee involved was also subject to a disciplinary proceeding". If there was a shred of integrity at the California Air Resources Board, Hien T. Tran would be on the streets looking for a job like so many truck drivers that they will or already have put out of business.  So far, the only integrity at CARB has been shown by Dr. John Telles who has called for a stay of the regulation.

Your editorial challenging the California Air Resources Board’s integrity is a disservice to victims of air pollution as well as the staff and board of perhaps the premier government agency in the state.

The facts are that a career employee who compiled health assessment information for an important truck and bus regulation falsely claimed to have completed his doctorate from an accredited university – a degree not required of his position. Second, the full board was not advised of this until after the board voted. The regulation is a rule that is designed to slash fine particulate matter that is widely recognized by the scientific community to be a cause of asthma exacerbations, hospitalization for heart and lung problems, and even premature death.

But there was no abuse, manipulation or dishonesty of any type. No one has questioned the accuracy or integrity of the report. After CARB management was made aware of the issue, CARB asked the same group of 10 external experts to reconsider their prior comments in light of this employee’s bad judgment. All nine who responded confirmed their original comments on the report.

The employee involved was also subject to a disciplinary proceeding.

Based on the record we have reviewed, there is no evidence to question the regulation, the supporting studies or board ARB management. The board has learned from this unfortunate event by putting in place new safeguards and procedures, committing to verifying academic credentials of new employees, and adopting new protocol to assure that all pertinent information is provided to board members before all votes. As academic scientists who have observed the board from afar for decades and now serve on it, we assert that under the current leadership it is the most effective and competent government agency we have worked with.


California Air Resources Board Member


Board Member

In letter to the editor of the San Diego Tribune, Dr. John Reed writes a response:

The U-T is to be commended for its exposure of the deception of Air Resources board members by staff and and the Board Chair, Mary Nichols. I find it very telling that Dr. Balmes has responded in an attempt to whitewash this incident, when he in fact was the only Board member who knew of the fraud prior to the vote, but never told other members, made no attempt to rectify the situation, and remained silent on the subject for nearly a year. It is also very telling that Dr. Balmes and Sperling state,

"Based on the record we have reviewed, there is no evidence to question the regulation, the supporting studies or board ARB management".
The record presented to them by staff has been sanitized of any dissenting views, including EPA studies, so of course their is no evidence questioning the regulation. These Board members are either part of the conspiracy to railroad these regulations through no matter what the very real human cost, or they are simply oblivious to the reality of the situation.
These proposed rules are being adopted based on a flawed study that supposes a public health benefit from this intervention, yet the possible negative public health effects of these rules have never been looked at , despite the overwhelming evidence that unemployment has a substantial negative impact on public health.
I guess the ARB just figures with millions without jobs already, whats a few more hundred thousand?
John Reed MD
Encinnitas, CA