A controversy that first appeared in these pages five years ago, came to an end last week. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concluded that human experiments with air pollutants conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were not dangerous — meaning EPA has been lying to the public and Congress for years about the extreme danger of the “pollutants” in question.
In April 2012, I broke the news that EPA had been quietly conducting human experiments with certain outdoor pollutants that EPA had claimed were, essentially, the most toxic substances on Earth. EPA had repeatedly claimed since at least 2004 that any level of inhalation of fine particulate matter emitted from smokestacks and tailpipes could cause death within hours or days. The old, young and sick were most vulnerable, according to EPA.
The reason EPA conducted the experiments, as admitted in litigation with me, was to try to hurt the study subjects in order to validate its unreliable statistical studies it claimed showed particulate matter was associated with death. So the agency constructed a gas chamber at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine into which it placed its human guinea pigs and pumped in diesel exhaust (from a truck idling outside), other concentrated forms of particulate matter, smog, combinations thereof, and even chlorine gas (like that used in World War I trench warfare).
If EPA was correct in its assessment of the particulate matter’s lethality, then the experiments conducted on human subjects would be patently illegal and the physicians involved would be guilty of many hundreds of counts of felony battery. The only way EPA and its physicians didn’t have such criminal liability was if particulate matter was not as deadly as EPA claimed. In the latter case, EPA would be guilty merely of having lied to the public and Congress in order to advance its regulatory agenda. It was a logical box with no third option.
I doggedly pursued EPA and its henchmen on these pages and in Congress, in federal court, with state medical associations, with the federal Office of Scientific Integrity, at the Presidential Bioethics Commission and more. Finally in March 2014, the EPA’s Office of Inspector General issued a report confirming my allegations and producing worldwide headlines.
But rather than admitting to either conducting criminal experiments or lying to Congress and the public about particulate matter, the EPA secretly hired the National Academy of Sciences to whitewash its own inspector general’s report in hopes of laying the scandal to rest and continuing the experiments. I only found out about the EPA-NAS project in June 2016, after the NAS had basically wrapped up its efforts.
With the help of these pages, I was able to expose the attempted covert whitewash and force the NAS to reopen its review. The NAS then held a special public meeting at which several of my colleagues and I testified about the logical box in which EPA had imprisoned itself. At the hearing, it became clear that the fix was in for EPA.
The committee members exhibited no interest in the documented evidence we presented. They asked no questions about the evidence and undertook no follow-up — even though they were shown documents indicating EPA had withheld evidence from, and otherwise materially misled the committee. That the fix was in came as no surprise as the NAS board members that organized the committee were two-thirds either EPA cronies or agency research grantees. We did, however, force the NAS committee to hold at least one more closed meeting. One can only imagine what was discussed: “What do we do now? Do we conclude that the EPA committed multiple felonies or merely lied to the public?” So this week, we got the answer.
The NAS committee did the only thing a government organization could do — bless the EPA’s human experiments and hope the agency could ride out the obvious but unspoken conclusion that it had lied to the public and Congress about the dangers of particulate matter.
So when the first Obama EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, testified to Congress that “Particulate matter causes premature death. It does not make you sick. It is directly causal to dying sooner than you should,” that was a lie, one compounded by her next false claim that particulate matter kills about 570,000 Americans per year. When the second Obama EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, wrote to Congress; chief outside EPA science adviser Jonathan Samet wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine; and EPA-paid university researchers working with the American Heart Association said that there was no safe exposure to particulate matter those too were lies.
As it turns out, the only time EPA told the truth about particulate matter was when it told its human guinea pigs that the experiments were harmless. Meanwhile the Obama EPA used the phony killer particulate matter scare — backed by almost $600 million in utterly fraudulent scientific research and fueled with secret scientific data — to virtually wipe out the U.S. coal industry, severely harming coal miners, their families and their communities.
Who is going to prison over this? So far, no one. But we can always hope justice will be done. Meanwhile, the irony is that, despite the green light from the National Academy of Sciences committee, the pointless EPA human experiments program is likely on the Trump administration’s budgetary chopping block. It’s hard to imagine President Trump borrowing money from China to fund EPA’s pointless experiments on the young, old and sick in its twisted gas chamber.
• Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of “Scare Pollution: Why and How to Fix the EPA” (Bench Press, 2016).