Monthly Archives: January 2013

National Wildlife Federation has carbonphobia

Carbonphobia, or perhaps fossil-fuel-phobia is emerging (or well established?) as a new personality disorder within the NWF.

As a life member of the National Wildlife Federation, I have to say that alarming statements about climate from NWF are an embarrassment. Like this one (click here), which ignors the fact that Alaska has cooled 2.4F over the last decade. Is it a surprise that wildlife have to struggle to survive? Is this part of the natural order?

Sierra Club thugs endorses civil disobedience….

As a life member of the Sierra Club, I certainly do not support their new policy to support civil disobedience (click here)…..I would urge other life members who have come to their right senses to not support Sierra Club tyranny, and let them know…….a former boss of mine would tell them….”they can take their policy and put it right where the sun does not shine.”

USEPA Region 8 has a transparency problem?

January 29, 2013

Mr. James B. Martin Administrator, Region 8 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 1595 Wynkoop Street Denver, CO  80202

Dear Administrator Martin:

We write to inquire about your use of Apple’s me.com, a non-official e-mail account to conduct official business as the Region 8 Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.  In particular, documents released pursuant to litigation recently obtained by the Committees confirm that you have used this non-official e-mail account to conduct official business.[1]   We are concerned that your use of the me.com e-mail account may be an attempt to circumvent the Federal Records Act, the Freedom of Information Act, and Congressional oversight. Accordingly, we are writing to request your cooperation as the Committees investigate whether this is an isolated incident or symptomatic of a broader problem at EPA.

In the limited production obtained by our respective Committees, it appears that on at least one occasion you used an Apple me.com address, a non-official e-mail account, to schedule an official business meeting.  Specifically, an email from Vickie Patton, the General Counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund to this private e-mail said, “Hi Jim, Next Monday or Tuesday December 12/13 at 9am depending on which is best for you.”[2]  In response, you replied from this private e-mail account with, “January 13 at 9:00 am works for me if that works for you. (Lost your original note – is that the date and time you proposed?).”[3]  It is our understanding that this meeting did in fact take place at the EPA regional office.   Moreover, it is unclear whether you attempted to preserve the correspondence as an EPA record, as is required by law.

The use of personal, non-official e-mail accounts raises concerns that you could be attempting to insulate this and other e-mail correspondence from a Freedom of Information Act[4] request.  Moreover, your actions may also constitute violation of the Federal Records Act.[5]  In accordance with the Federal Records Act and guidance from the D.C. Circuit, federal agencies must preserve e-mail messages if they are:

made or received by an agency of the United States Government under Federal law or in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved or appropriate for preservation by that agency or its legitimate successor as evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the Government or because of the informational value of data in them.[6] (emphasis added).

To be clear, it does not appear that this transaction was an isolated incident.  Rather, the body of emails suggests that you regularly used this personal email account to stay informed on matters relating to your official duties.   For example, not only did Ms. Patton regularly send updates to the me.com account, according to one document, you used this non-official account to request contact information for another government employee, which was provided as a private e-mail address.[7]

As the Region 8 Administrator, I expect you would have knowledge of EPA’s policy that explicitly prohibits use of non-EPA e-mails for business purposes.  In 2008, EPA wrote to the Government Accountability Office that “EPA has a clear and consistent policy framework against the use of nongovernmental e-mail systems for official EPA business.”[8]  During EPA’s briefing on Records Management to incoming political appointees in 2009, EPA instructed, “[d]o not use any outside e-mail account to conduct official Agency business.”[9]  More recently, in October 2012, EPA sent an agency-wide e-mail reminding employees of this policy. Specifically, the email stated:  “[t]his is a reminder to all EPA Employees that EPA prohibits the use of non-EPA E-Mail Systems when conducting agency business.  This guidance is stated in Agency Records Training, New Employee Orientations and Briefings for Senior Agency Officials.”[10] (emphasis added).

In both the agency-wide e-mail and the Frequently Asked Questions about E-Mail and Records webpage, EPA states that employees are prohibited from using “any outside e-mail system to conduct official Agency business.  If, during an emergency, you use a non-EPA e-mail system, you are responsible for ensuring that any e-mail records and attachments are saved in your office’s recordkeeping system.”[11] (emphasis added)  It does not appear that there were any emergency circumstances surrounding the use of your personal email, but even if there were, it appears that you still failed to preserve the e-mails in the proper recordkeeping system.  Thus, under all plausible circumstances, your private e-mails demonstrate a clear violation of EPA policy and federal law.

In an effort to better understand whether or not the emails provided to our Committees are an unfortunate, but isolated incident, or if they are part of a larger scheme to defeat federal transparency laws, we request that you provide all emails sent or received from any private email account from April 1, 2010, through present day that refer or relate to your responsibilities as an EPA official.  This request includes all emails sent or received by you, whether or not they are currently in your “inbox.”  Moreover, I request that you make yourself available for a transcribed interview with both Committee staffs the week of February 11, 2013.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.  If you have any questions, please contact Kristina Moore with the Committee on Environment and Public Works at (202) 224-6176 or Tyler Grimm with the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform at (202) 225-5074.

Sincerely,

David Vitter Darrell E. Issa Ranking Member Chairman                                 Environment and Public Works Oversight and Government Reform

Cc:       Chairman Barbara Boxer, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works             Ranking Member, House Oversight and Government Reform

NASA global temperature trends…a lesson in “How to deceive with statistics?”

Here is the latest graph of the “average” global temperature trends from 4 agencies making such calculations. Since all of these agencies are working with essentially the same data set, we would expect general agreement of their results. It is what it is, implying an increase in temperature that has leveled off over the prior 17 years….but that is not the primary problem. An “average” value for the planet is not a meaningful number, or at least not a useful number for water suppliers. The variability of the data is “hidden” in the calculated average value, which only reveals a central tendency of the data set. An “average” is a concept—an abstraction. We do not experience “averages” or central tendencies. “Averages” are not actual physical global temperatures and may not exist anywhere on the planet. For any particular geographical area or region, the measured temperature variability is what really matters, not a abstract calculation of a planetary average. In addition, the graph is truncated at 1880….Does that mean there was no temperature before then? Of course not. There is ample evidence suggesting much higher temperatures prior to 1880 in the absence of high CO2 levels. CO2 certainly will have some impact on atmospheric temperatures but to argue that increasing global average temperatures is mostly due to man using fossil fuels as the cause of this particular increasing temperature trend is a stretch too far, at least for those who think realistically about the science. And of course, “nature” also uses fossil fuels….as they can burn in the natural course of events. And lastly, the impression is given that because the graphs of analyzed measured data below are close, we should believe theoretical model projections from “scientists” about the future.  This, of course, is silly. Theoretical models used to hindcast the past and forecast the future must stand on their own. Climate modeling is fraught with “disagreement” since none of the models are very good.

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Westmoreland (PA) customers getting fluoride out of their water

Westmoreland authority board members made the decision not to add fluoride more than three decades ago, Kerr said. They will follow that policy unless forced by law to add fluoride….

Bob Stiles. “Westmoreland customers getting fluoride out of their water” Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA) 1/22/2013

How precaution was abandoned with regard to fluoride….

Here is a illustrative article from the 1950s……In the early days, caution was the advice and judgement of responsible scientists regarding addition of flouride to water. In fact, some of the same concerns raised below, in 1952, remain today. Caution (e.g., precautionary principle) was certainly justified then, as now.

In time, some dentists turned advocates convinced nonprofit associations (e.g., AMA) to support fluoride addition. These are top-down driven organizations, and once they take a position, others will go along….to get alone. These circular endorsements (we support it because they do) of various nonprofit and political advocacy groups pushed through the barriers and some cities began adding fluoride. This along with results of the guinea pig (children) trials in several cities, were used to argue for water fluoridation, and the prevailing presumption changed. The presumption of necessary precaution changed to the presumption of safety, even though addition of fluoride to tap water cannot be “proven” harmless or safe. The presumption of safety has remained for many years in the dental community and the CDC, and even though studies may raise health concerns, these interest groups will continue to presume fluoride in drinking water is safe and good unless proven otherwise. What ever study is done to raise health concerns about fluoride, the institutional supporters will raise some argument to explain it away as to why it is not true or relevant, and such minds have become closed to any criticisms of fluoride addition. This reflects the power of presumption and an closed mind (perhaps for political reasons), especially by government institutions and professions that have tied  an issue to its own identity (like dentists believing they are doing good by promoting water fluoridation) as an advocacy cause. Not much science remains, unless the conclusion supports the presumed outcome of safety….(hence, only name calling of fluoride opponents remains….)

Howard V. Smith. Fluoride Controversy. Education Digest; Apr1952, Vol. 17 Issue 8, p54.

The article reports on the controversy regarding the safety of fluoridation of water in the United States. Howard V. Smith, a University of Arizona chemist and co-discoverer of the role which fluorine plays in dental health, opposes to the fluoridation of water supplies until more is known about the effect. According to Smith, scientists do not know what safe fluoride concentrations in each climatic zone should be. In addition, individual reactions to fluorine and differences in the amount of water consumed as a result of an occupation have a bearing on the amount of fluorine which can safely be taken in. Smith claims that the safest procedure for reducing caries is to paint children’s teeth with fluoride and that should be done under the school’s supervision. Meanwhile, the American Medical Association issued a statement about the issue.

Hormesis dose-response is commonly observed…

EJ Calabrese, I Iavicoli and V Calabrese. Hormesis: Its impact on medicine and health. Human and Experimental Toxicology.  32(2) 120–152.

This article offers a broad assessment of the hormetic dose response and its relevance to biomedical researchers,  physicians, the pharmaceutical industry, and public health scientists. This article contains a series of 61 questions
followed by relatively brief but referenced responses that provides support for the conclusion that hormesis is a  reproducible phenomenon, commonly observed, with a frequency far greater than other dose–response models
such as the threshold and linear nonthreshold dose–response models. The article provides a detailed background  information on the historical foundations of hormesis, its quantitative features, mechanistic foundations, as well as
how hormesis is currently being used within medicine and identifying how this concept could be further applied in  the development of new therapeutic advances and in improved public health practices.

Click here for full article (Open Source).