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EPA Faces Lawsuit Over Grants to Scientists on Clean Air Panel

Image: EPA Faces Lawsuit Over Grants to Scientists on Clean Air Panel
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By    |   Monday, 27 Jun 2016 04:25 PM

The federal Environmental Protection Agency faces a lawsuit contending that scientists on an important clean air rules-review panel are biased because of research grants from the agency.

The Energy & Environment Legal Institute alleges that these scientists are dependent upon the EPA for funding, and therefore tend to favor stricter regulations.

"This clearly violates the law and makes a mockery of the notion of 'independent' scientific review," institute lawyer Steve Milloy told Fox News. "Not only does the EPA pay researchers to produce controversial research that advances its regulatory agenda, but the agency pays the very same researchers to review their own controversial work."

Milloy claims that the funding has compromised the impartiality of many members of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee's (CASAC) review panels on particulate matter and on ozone. The lawyer says their composition therefore violates the Clean Air Act and the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which state that such panels must be independent and unbiased.

Milloy cites research that shows 17 out of 20 scientists on the Ozone panel received EPA grants, amounting to over $192 million. He says 24 of 26 members of the Particulate Matter panel received direct or indirect funding totaling more than $190 million.

Multiple scientists on both panels denied that EPA research funding led to any bias.

"Almost all academics working on air quality have received funding from EPA at some point," said Daniel Jacob, a faculty associate at Harvard University's Center for the Environment. "There's also this silly perception that scientists would be lemmings obliging the hand that feeds them. Scientists love nothing more than to challenge authority."

Jacob has received $2 million from the EPA over the course of his career, but told Fox that he received more from the power industry in that same time.

Still, other researchers have noted the costly, self-perpetuating nature of the EPA's mandate when it comes to setting air-quality standards.

A study from the American Enterprise Institute concluded in 2014 that "federal air quality regulation suffers from incentives to create requirements that are unnecessarily stringent, intrusive, bureaucratic, and costly. The Clean Air Act charges the EPA with setting air pollution health standards. But this means that federal regulators decide when their own jobs are finished. Not surprisingly, no matter how clean the air, the EPA continues to find unacceptable risks."

Milloy faced bias accusations over his previous work as a Fox News contributor, citing public records. The New Republic reported that Milloy, then a science columnist for FoxNews.com, had received undisclosed payments from Phillip-Morris while producing material casting doubt on links between second-hand tobacco smoke and cancer. Mother Jones reported in 2005 that two companies run by Milloy received thousands of dollars from ExxonMobil while he was writing highly publicized articles criticizing global warming concerns.

The lawsuit was brought in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, naming the Western States Trucking Association and retired University of California epidemiology researcher Dr. James Enstrom as plaintiffs, Fox reported, saying the suit seeks an injunction to block further meetings of the Particulate Matter review panel. Enstrom faced similar accusations of bias, which he denies, over his 1998 study on the effects of tobacco. The study disputes a significant link between tobacco usage and heart disease and cancer. Enstrom requested and received grants for the study from tobacco companies, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.

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The federal Environmental Protection Agency faces a lawsuit contending that scientists on an important clean air rules-review panel are biased because of research grants from the agency.
epa, lawsuit, grants, scientists, bias
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2016-25-27
Monday, 27 Jun 2016 04:25 PM
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