EPA Lamb Among Transition Wolves

Hope that the Bush-Cheney administration will bring a sound science agenda to the Environmental Protection Agency may be disappearing.

If the leadership and composition of the Bush-Cheney EPA transition team is any indication, junk science will continue to rule the roost at the agency, regardless of the change in administration.

A memorandum lists the 29 members of the transition team. Worrisome team members include former EPA administrator William Ruckleshaus and his associates.

Ruckleshaus' place in the junk science hall of shame was cemented by his unilateral decision in 1972 to ban the insecticide DDT. He brazenly overruled an EPA administrative law judge who, after 7 months of hearings and 9,000 pages of testimony, found no evidence indicating DDT posed a threat to humans or the environment. Ruckleshaus never attended the hearings and never read the transcript. He didn't need facts; he had an agenda.

In 1967, the Audubon Society spun off the Environmental Defense Fund to lobby on environmental issues such as the use of DDT without jeopardizing the Audubon Society's tax status. Ruckleshaus belonged to the EDF and even sent out fundraising letters urging people to join the activist group. One post-ban letter was positively precious, stating: "EDF's scientists blew the whistle on DDT by showing it to be a cancer hazard, and three years later, when the dust had cleared, EDF had won."

Ruckleshaus apparently maintains his EDF connections to this day. Joining him on the EPA transition team is none other than Fred Krupp, executive director of Environmental Defense, formerly known as the Environmental Defense Fund.

EDF is a primary promoter of global warming hysteria and the Kyoto Protocol, the now virtually dead global warming treaty. An EDF report claims that global warming-induced higher temperatures and rising sea levels could cause flooding, disease, and heat stress — all the way to Washington, D.C.

The EDF is also working to alarm the public about biotechnology harming Monarch butterflies. There never was a scientific basis for the alarm, and ongoing research is rapidly discrediting the allegations.

The EDF also maintains a database on the Internet called "Scorecard" so the public can fret about permitted emissions from local industrial facilities.

Joining the EDF at the Bush table is the World Resources Institute in the person of President Jonathan Lash. Ruckleshaus, incidentally, is chairman of WRI.

WRI also promotes the horror of global warming. "Halt changes to the Earth's climate caused by human activity," demands WRI. It gets wackier.

The WRI's Devra Lee Davis alleges that chemicals in the environment cause breast cancer and more girls than boys to be born. Davis "reasons" that because only about 10 percent of breast cancer cases are attributed to known genetic defects, the rest must be caused by the environment.

Davis cherry-picked data to conclude that relatively more girls than boys are being born in the U.S. She then alleged without evidence that this supposed phenomenon was caused by chemical exposures. Little wonder that famed epidemiologists Sir Richard Doll and Richard Peto once called Davis' work "uninteresting," "quite uninformative," "boring," and "old junk."

Extreme enviros are also represented on the EPA transition team by William K. Reilly, the EPA administrator under former President George Bush. Reilly is now chairman of the World Wildlife Fund. The WWF also is in the tank for global warming — it has an anti-people agenda as well.

Last month, the WWF led other activist groups in advocating an international treaty banning the use of DDT — even though the public health establishment said use of the chemical was necessary to save some of the 2 million people a year who die from malaria. The WWF is not as cuddly as the panda on its logo.

The Health Effects Institute also has a place on the EPA transition team in the person of President Dan Greenbaum. HEI is notable for helping the EPA — a 50 percent funder of HEI — hide from the public the scientific data used to justify the agency's 1997 air quality regulations. The question of whether these regulations, estimated to cost as much as $100 billion per year, are justified or not is now before the Supreme Court.

All this might not be that worrisome if someone experienced with EPA and the environment was in line to be the agency's boss. Bush's nominee, New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman, is not that person.

After being nominated, Whitman was asked: "Global warming, what is your thought on what the state of science is and what can be done to address it?" She responded: "Still somewhat uncertain. Clearly there's a hole in the ozone, that has been identified. But I saw a study the other day that showed that it was closing. It's not as clear, the cause and effect, as we would like it to be."

Certainly she's headed in the right direction questioning cause-and-effect relationships, but confusing global warming and ozone depletion is inexcusable for someone who aspires to run the EPA — an agency whose tough, seasoned and mission-oriented bureaucrats have outsmarted, embarrassed and outlasted many more knowledgeable and experienced administrators.

Before she faces the EPA toughs, though, she'll have to run the transition team gauntlet. Right now, my money's on four more junk science-filled years at the EPA.

— Steven Milloy is a biostatistician, lawyer and adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and publisher of Junkscience.com.