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Tuesday, February 3, 2004


Subcommittee to Convene Hearing on Peer Reviewed Science for Environmental Policy


(WASHINGTON) - The Subcommittee on Energy and Minerals will hear testimony from experts including a retired NASA scientist, a Harvard expert on climate change, and a government whistleblower, as well as Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) on at 2:00 p.m., Wednesday, February 4, 2004.  The panel will explore the growing demand for much needed peer review of the science used in developing environmental policy.  (Witness list is attached.)    


The facts behind many of the most renowned "threats" to the environmental health in America surprise even the toughest critics.  These revelations, combined with a slew of recent headlines, prompted the Congressional inquiry.    


"Bad science inevitably leads to bad public policy," said subcommittee chair Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-WY). "Environmental decisions should be based on scientific facts - not scientific opinions.  I don't think it's unreasonable to ask that we require a sound scientific basis for decisions that could place restrictions on untold acres of public and private land."


"Radical environmentalists have a history of crying wolf," said House Resources Committee Chairman, Richard W. Pombo (R-CA).  "For decades they have relied on junk 'science' and scare tactics to unabashedly influence public policy.  Unfortunately, people everywhere suffer as a result."


Letter from Pombo to OMB:  http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/Press/releases/2004/lettertoOMB_soundscience0104.pdf



A History of Crying Wolf:

1.            Perilous PCBs? A study published by Science in January 2004 sent salmon lovers running scared.  The report, claiming that farm-raised salmon have hazardously higher levels of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) than their siblings in the wild, urged consumers to limit their salmon intake to once a month or risk cancer.  Ironically, the link between cancer and PCBs was both discovered and refuted by the same Center for Disease Control scientist, Dr. Renate Kimbrough.  Kimbrough's original study was the basis for the 1976 Congressional ban on PCBs.  The rule has yet to be reviewed in light of her latest discovery.


Kimbrough found "strong evidence that even long-term human exposure to PCBs at higher levels than are found in the environment is not related to an increase in deaths from cancer or any other diseases."

                -- Journal of Occupational and Scientific Medicine, 1999


2.             Remember DDT?  There is a cure for the leading killer of children in Africa, but it may shock you.  Highly regulated treatments of DDT, scientists and health professionals agree, would cut malaria deaths in Africa by up to 80%.  Widely known for its allegedly nefarious effects on migratory birds, leaders of environmental movement held up the bald eagle as the poster child for banning the pesticide in the early 1970s.  But scientists point to DDT as a prime example of politics gone awry. 


"Banning DDT is one of the most disgraceful episodes in the 20th-century history of America.  DDT is not a carcinogen, did not cause birds to die and should never have been banned. I can tell you that the DDT ban has caused the deaths of tens of millions of poor people, mostly children, whose deaths are directly attributable to a callous, technologically advanced Western society that promoted the new cause of environmentalism by pushing a fantasy about a pesticide...." 

                -Michael Crichton, author and Harvard University M.D.


3.            Water Wars?  Tensions between farmers and environmentalists are hardly new, but the battle reached a fever pitch during the summer of 2001 in Klamath Falls, Oregon.  In response to an outcry to protect the endangered sucker fish, a federal court ordered the Bureau of Reclamation to shut off of irrigation to 1,400 farmers.  When 35,000 salmon died the following summer, after irrigation was restored, biologists blamed the farmers.  However, a National Research Council (NRC) report found that federal biologists' decision to maintain higher water levels in Upper Klamath Lake and in the river had "no sound scientific basis."


4.             Red, Delicious and Dangerous Apples?  Turns out the 1960s campaign claiming America's favorite natural snack-food was laced with "poison"-a pesticide called Alar-was all bark and no bite.  The FDA, the EPA, USDA, the AMA, and numerous other medial and agricultural experts concur that Alar never posed a health threat (American Council on Science and Health, February 1999).  The wicked witch was not the pesticide, but rather the groups passionately advocating its demise.  In the end, the hysteria cost U.S. apple growers $250 million.


5.             Food Fight?  Since 1973, Lester Brown, an activist from the Worldwatch Institute, has been warning that world population is about to outgrow food production. In an article on environmental doomsday forecasts, The Economist noted that in 1994 Brown said 'after 40 years of record food production gains, output per person has reversed with unanticipated consequences.'  Brown's comments were followed by three years of big increases in world food output. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Index of per capita food production gained over 5 per cent from 1993 till 1996 (the most recent year for which full statistics are available).


6.             Energy Development is Bad for the Environment?  A 1999 Clinton Administration report, "Environmental Benefits of Advanced Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Technology," reveals the fact that energy exploration and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive endeavors. It outlines "state-of the-art" technologies that allow producers to develop energy safely - and - produce actual environmental benefits including restoration and wildlife enhancement.  For example, the report suggests that offshore oil development actually creates a haven for several species of exotic fish and other marine life.  


7.             Global Warming?  Predictions about global climate change have captivated headlines for decades.  However, few remember that the frenzy 25 years ago swirled around the threat of a "cooling," not the temperature hike at the center of today's hype.  For all of the political grandstanding and predictions of apocalyptic effects, scientists maintain the data tells a different story. 


"In a recent Science article, federal climatologists Tom Karl and Kevin Trenberth repeat the usual United Nations saw that there's "a 90% probability interval for warming from...1.7 to 4.9C" in the next century." In fact, the 21st century warming rate is now well-known to be confined to a much lower and smaller range, about 0.75 +/- 0.25C per 50 years, and may be lower than that." 

                -- Patrick Michaels, senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute











Honorable Greg Walden

Oregon, 2nd District

(*on HR 1662)



George M. Gray, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Harvard Center for Risk Analysis


David Michaels, PhD, MPH

The George Washington University School of Public Health

and Health Services

(*former NASA scientist)


Ronald Bailey

Science Correspond Reason Magazine

Adjunct Scholar Cato Institute and CEI


Christopher E. Herald

CEO-President of Crown Resources



Roy W. Spencer

The University of Alabama in Huntsville


Sallie Baliunas, Ph.D.

Enviro/Science Host


(*Harvard global warming expert)


Devra Lee Davis, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz School   


David L. Lewis, Ph.D.

Research Microbiologist

Department of Marine Sciences

(*government whistleblower)


Paul K. Driessen, APR, Esq.


Economic Human Rights Project

(*DDT specialist)





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