The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is, lest you think otherwise, alive and well. And they are on top of the really, really important things! But beware!!! They are coming for your candles! The agency that once issued memos about carbon pollution from power plants and the threat that they posed to public health, is now warning that burning candles and incense can irritate the lungs of asthma sufferers. Oh yes, and beware, too, of those summer bonfires, as the wood smoke can trigger asthma attacks. Isn’t it wonderful that an agency with an $8 billion budget is spending our money to warn us about the dangers of candles and wood smoke?
As one who has had asthma since birth, I can assure you that candles burning in my home are not a problem. My two biggest problems are the air outdoors when it is warm and humid, and flowers. Ohhhh … I better watch what I say there, or perhaps the EPA will come dig up all my flowers!!!
Just days after the announcement about candles and incense, the EPA also announced that it would seek a two-year delay in the implementation of a rule requiring oil and gas companies to detect and repair leaks of methane and other air pollutants from oil and gas wells. In announcing the delay, the EPA acknowledged that it could have a disproportionate impact on the health of children, but argued that delay was worthwhile because it would save the oil and gas industry roughly $173 million.
Liz Purchia, a former EPA communications official under the Obama administration:
“They are just distracting from the larger issues by focusing on the really small ones. I’d love to see the last time they talked about carbon pollution from power plants and the threat that they posed to public health. It’s pretty unbelievable. They are using smoke and mirrors to make it appear like they are trying to protect public health, and meanwhile they are doing everything that they can do rollback regulations and work with the fossil fuel industry to bend to their will. They are showing a willful blindness towards the health of the American public.”
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has not, as of yet, taken any legal action against incense or scented candle manufacturers.
In other EPA news …
The Environmental Protection Agency has given notice to dozens of scientists that they will not be renewed in their roles in advising the agency. Members of the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) whose terms end in August will not see them renewed, according to an email sent to members this week. They may re-apply, but were given a June 30 deadline to do so. The BOSC functions as an advisory board for the EPA’s Office of Research and Development, and helps the office make sure that it is using sufficiently rigorous science in its research and development programs.
Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists:
“The Board of Scientific Counselors was formed to make sure the EPA does the best possible scientific work with limited taxpayer dollars. This independent advice is needed now more than ever. By sacking dozens of scientific counselors, Pruitt is showing that he doesn’t value scientific input and the benefits it offers the public.”
Is anybody surprised by that?
In May, when Pruitt announced the terminations of nine scientists, his spokesman, J. P. Freire, said he would consider replacing the academic scientists with representatives from industries whose pollution the agency is supposed to regulate, such as the chemical, oil and gas industries. “The administrator believes we should have people on this board who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community.” Putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop?
And in other climate news …
At an Energy and Natural Resources Committee budget hearing earlier this week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke came under fire from Senator Al Franken over his inane comments that “the vanishing glaciers at Glacier National Park have undergone a “consistent melt” since the end of the last ice age”. Franken informed Zinke that “scientists who work for you” have found the melting has “dramatically accelerated” in recent decades.
Franken: “Can you tell me how much warming government scientists predict for the end of the century under a business-as-usual scenario?”
Zinke: “The Paris accord, in the president and my judgement, it wasn’t about climate change, it was about a bad deal.”
Franken interrupted to ask Zinke to answer the question.
Zinke: “I don’t think the government scientists can predict with certainty. There isn’t a model that existed it can predict today’s weather given all the data. If everyone adhered to the Paris climate accord, that change would be roughly 0.2°, which is insignificant.”
Franken: “No, no, no! I just want you to answer the question that I asked you. That’s all I want you to do.”
And so it continued, as nauseam. Keep in mind that Mr. Zinke is the head of the Department of Interior, a position that pays in the $100,000 per year range, yet intellectually I would pit almost any 8th grader against him in a debate.
Meanwhile, out in the real world …
The Southwest is experiencing its worst heat wave in decades. Excessive heat warnings have been in effect from Arizona to California and will be for the remainder of the week. On Monday, temperatures in Phoenix hit 118 degrees, according to the National Weather Service, which announced the record-tying heat.
It was so hot that dozens of flights have been canceled this week at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
My vote is for sending Trump, Pruitt and Zinke to Phoenix, make them stand on the airport tarmac for about three hours in their suits and ties, then ask if they still believe climate change is a ‘hoax’.