- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 31, 2011

NPR is not the only partisan political organization that ought to have its public funding cut. Congress should put the American Lung Association (ALA) on the chopping block, too.

As Congress went on recess last week, the ALA took out billboard advertising in Michigan targeting House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, Michigan Republican. The billboard ad features a child with an oxygen mask over her face and reads, “Rep. Fred Upton, protect our kids’ health. Don’t weaken the Clean Air Act.”

The ALA attacked Mr. Upton because he is leading the bipartisan effort in Congress to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gases - essentially President Obama’s retaliation for Congress’ “failure” to pass “cap-and-trade” legislation last year.

Although greenhouse gas emissions have nothing to do with air quality - colorless, odorless carbon dioxide is labeled a greenhouse gas and causes no adverse health effects - the ALA is nevertheless trying to stir up hometown opposition to Mr. Upton with its over-the-top attack ad.

This isn’t ALA’s only attack on Congress’ effort to rein in the out-of-control Obama EPA.

At a recent Energy and Commerce Committee hearing to finalize the so-called Inhofe-Upton bill to block EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations, Rep. Lois Capps, California Democrat, used her turn to speak to spotlight an ALA-sponsored poll purporting to show that the public opposed efforts to limit EPA’s authority.

Though ALA no doubt hopes the public believes that efforts to contain the EPA are so dangerous to public health that the self-haloed organization had to get involved, the reality is much less noble.

Since 1990, EPA and ALA have had a symbiotic relationship. EPA shovels money out to ALA and, in return, ALA agitates for expanded EPA air-pollution regulation.

In addition to ads and polls, ALA lobbies Congress for more EPA regulation, has sued to expand EPA’s authority and regularly issues reports that lament supposedly poor air quality in the United States and tout the purported benefits of EPA actions.

We’re not talking chump change. In the past 10 years, EPA has paid ALA more than $20 million - perhaps double the payments that EPA made to ALA in the 1990s. ALA also received another $3.7 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

No doubt, ALA, EPA and the Obama administration will deny any quid-pro-quo relationship between this funding and ALA’s advocacy, but the facts speak for themselves.

Another inconvenient reality for EPA and ALA is that America’s air is safe to breathe - a fact the organizations apparently don’t want Americans to know.

In a JunkScience.com report published in March, “EPA’s Clean Air Act: Pretending Air Pollution Is Worse Than It Is,” we see EPA’s more-stringent-than-necessary air-quality standards are rarely violated.

In states with coal-fired electricity, for example, particulate-matter standards are violated less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the time. Smog standards are violated in those states just about 1 percent of the time.

Because U.S. air is so clean, EPA engages in a sophisticated game of scientific make-believe and economic hocus-pocus to convince Americans that its ever more stringent regulations are worth their high costs.

Further, EPA estimates that its implementation of the Clean Air Act produces economic benefits to society worth on the order of 10 percent of our $14 trillion gross domestic product. Who knew EPA secretly was our golden goose, continually laying golden regulatory eggs?

The EPA-created illusion of health-threatening air quality is being taken to a new level of outrageousness by the ALA through its deliberate confusion of greenhouse gas emissions with conventional air-quality pollutants.

The Inhofe-Upton bill does not roll back existing standards for conventional pollutants such as particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Rather, it is aimed at EPA’s self-proclaimed and highly controversial authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

The outlaw EPA has, so far, escaped meaningful oversight by Congress and the courts. Its attack dogs, such as ALA, aim to keep it that way - and keep the cash flowing.

Challenging EPA has not, historically, been a Republican strong suit, but ALA’s ads should make it clear why the course of that sad history needs to be altered.

Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery, 2009).

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