No, Congress did not “overreact” to DDT

October 30, 2013

Looking for something else, I restumbled on the Constitution Club, where they continue to club the Constitution, its better principles, and especially the great nation that the document creates.

And one of those grotesquely inaccurate posts blaming liberals for everything sprang up — bedbugs, this time.  If only those liberals had let the good DDT manufacturers poison the hell out of the entire planet, the blog falsely claims, there would be no concern for bedbugs surging in hotels worldwide today, and especially not in Charlotte, North Carolina, back during the Democratic National Convention.

A meeting of a chapter of Constitution clubs? Wikipedia image

A meeting of a chapter of Constitution clubs? Wikipedia image

Looking through the archives, I now recall I dealt with most of this issue on this blog before.

The post’s author made a response I hadn’t seen.  God help me these idiots do need a trip to the intellectual woodshed.  He said “Congress overreacted on DDT, I think. It likes to do that.”

In reality, Congress did nothing at all, other than pass the law regulating pesticides, if we stick to the real history. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the rule on DDT, which still stands today.  Over react?  Two federal courts had to twist EPA’s arm to get any action at all, and after delaying for nearly two years, EPA’s rule didn’t ban DDT except for outdoor use on crops, which by that time meant cotton in a handful of states in the U.S. — DDT has never been banned in Africa nor Asia, Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty notwithstanding.

Oh, hell. Put it on the record.

I wrote:

Did Congress ever “react” to DDT?

EPA was tasked by the 1950s’s FIFRA to check out safety of pesticides, and did.  FIFRA had recently been amended to give EPA (USDA, before) power to ban a pesticide outright. Two federal courts found DDT eminently worthy of such an outright ban, but refrained from ordering it themselves as they saw the law to require, on the promise of EPA to conduct a thorough scientific review.  At some length, and irritation to the Eisenhower appointees to the courts, EPA got around to an administrative law hearing — several months and 9,000 pages.  In a panic, the DDT manufacturers proposed a new label for DDT before the hearings got started, calling DDT dangerous to wildlife, and saying it should be used only indoors to control health-threats.  Alas, under the law, if DDT were allowed to stay for sale over the counter, anyone could buy it and abuse it.  The hearing record clearly provided proof that DDT killed wildlife, and entire ecosystems.  But, it was useful to fight diseases, used as the proposed label suggested . . .

Administrator William Ruckelshaus took the cue the DDT manufacturers offered.  He issued a rule banning DDT from outdoor use on agricultural crops except in emergencies with a permit from EPA.  But he specifically allowed U.S. manufacturers to keep making the stuff for export to fight malaria in distant nations, and to allow DDT makers to keep making money.

“Over-reacted” on DDT?  Not Congress, and not EPA.  The rule was challenged in court, twice.  The appellate courts ruled that the scientific evidence, the mountains of it, fully justified the rule, and let it stand.  (Under U.S. law, agencies may not act on whim; if they over-react, they’ve violated the law.)

No study conducted carefully and judiciously, and passed through the gauntlet of peer review, since that time, has questioned the science conclusions of that rule in any significant way — if any study questioned the science at all (there are famous urban legends, but most of them lead back to people who didn’t even bother to do research, let alone do it well and publish it).

But so-called conservatives have faith that if Congress will just repeal the law of gravity, pigs can fly.  In the real world, things don’t work that way.

How bedbugs view DDT in the 21st century.

How bedbugs view DDT in the 21st century.

I’ve captured most of the earlier exchanges below the fold; one can never trust so-called conservatives to conserve a record of their gross errors.  They’re there for the record, and for your use and edification.

Read the rest of this entry »


Clean Water Act at 40

October 18, 2012

Today is the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

In this photo, an entry in the 2012 Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Photography Contest, can you tell the answer to Ben  Franklin’s not-rhetorical question:  “Is this a rising, or setting sun?”

Sun and ocean, entry in 2012 Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Photo Contest

Sun and ocean, entry in 2012 Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Photo Contest – click to contest site to see whether it is a rising or setting sun.  Photo by Ramsay age 14,
and Kyle age 43

We’re in the home stretch for the 2012 elections.  Are your congressional representatives among those who have pledged to cut funding for enforcement of the Clean Water Act?  Are they among those who have pledged to kill EPA?

How would that affect beaches like the one pictured above, by Ramsay and Kyle?

Nancy Stoner wrote at an EPA blog:

I am proud to be at EPA in 2012 for the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the nation’s foremost law for protecting our most irreplaceable resource. I often think about how a generation ago, the American people faced health and environmental threats in their waters that are almost unimaginable today.

Municipal and household wastes flowed untreated into our rivers, lakes and streams. Harmful chemicals were poured into the water from factories, chemical manufacturers, power plants and other facilities. Two-thirds of waterways were unsafe for swimming or fishing. Polluters weren’t held responsible. We lacked the science, technology and funding to address the problems.

Then on October 18, 1972, the Clean Water Act became law.

In the 40 years since, the Clean Water Act has kept tens of billions of pounds of sewage, chemicals and trash out of our waterways. Urban waterways have gone from wastelands to centers of redevelopment and activity, and we have doubled the number of American waters that meet standards for swimming and fishing. We’ve developed incredible science and spurred countless innovations in technology.

But I realize that despite the progress, there is still much, much more work to be done. And there are many challenges to clean water.

Today one-third of America’s assessed waterways still don’t meet water quality standards. Our nation’s water infrastructure is in tremendous need of improvement – the American Society of Civil Engineers gave it a D-, the lowest grade given to any public infrastructure. The population will grow 55 percent from 2000 and 2050, which will put added strain on water resources. Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution is increasingly harming streams, rivers, lakes, bays and coastal waters. Climate change is predicted to bring warmer temperatures, sea level rise, stronger storms, more droughts and changes to water chemistry. And we face less conventional pollutants – so-called emerging contaminants – that we’ve only recently had the science to detect.

The absolute best path forward is partnership – among all levels of government, the private sector, non-profits and the public. It is only because of partnership that we made so much progress during the past 40 years, and it is partnership that will lead to more progress over the next 40 years.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone who has been part of protecting water and for working to ensure that this vital resource our families, communities and economy depends on is safeguarded for generations to come.

About the author: Nancy Stoner is the Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water

Tell us about your favorite stretch of clean water, in comments.

More:


Texas’s Superfund cleanup sites, listed by county

September 21, 2012

I got a notice from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality:

The Texas Superfund Registry has been published in the September 21, 2012 issue of the Texas Register.

64 of Texas’s 254 counties have Superfund sites, either state or federal; many of them have been cleaned up, but many are active.  My count shows 161 sites total for Texas.

You can go to the site and find the information in several different sorts — here is the list, by county, unedited, straight from TCEQ (Not sure why Parker County is listed differently).

Index of Superfund sites by county.

If a county does not appear on this list, it is because there is no state or federal Superfund site in that county. This index includes all sites—those where cleanup is complete as well as those for which cleanup or assessment is in progress.

On the county maps, a light blue star designates a federal Superfund site. A red star designates a state Superfund site.

Related Categories:
Superfund Sites in Anderson County Current and former Superfund sites located in Anderson County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Angelina County Current and former Superfund sites located in Angelina County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Bell County Current and former Superfund sites located in Bell County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site..
Superfund Sites in Bexar County Current and former Superfund sites located in Bexar County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Bowie County Current and former Superfund sites located in Bowie County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Brazoria County Current and former Superfund sites located in Brazoria County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Calhoun County Current and former Superfund sites located in Calhoun County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Cameron County Current and former Superfund sites located in Cameron County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Carson County Current and former Superfund sites located in Carson County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Cass County Current and former Superfund sites located in Cass County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Cherokee County Current and former Superfund sites located in Cherokee County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Collin County Current and former Superfund sites located in Collin County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Dallas County Current and former Superfund sites located in Dallas County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Eastland County Current and former Superfund sites located in Eastland County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Ector County Current and former Superfund sites located in Ector County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in El Paso County Current and former Superfund sites located in El Paso County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Ellis County Current and former Superfund sites located in Ellis County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Fort Bend County Current and former Superfund sites located in Fort Bend County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Galveston County Current and former Superfund sites located in Galveston County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Grayson County Current and former Superfund sites located in Grayson County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Gregg County Current and former Superfund sites located in Gregg County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Guadalupe County Current and former Superfund sites located in Guadalupe County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Hale County Current and former Superfund sites located in Hale County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Hardin County Current and former Superfund sites located in Hardin County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Harris County Current and former Superfund sites located in Harris County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Harrison County Current and former Superfund sites located in Harrison County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Hays County Current and former Superfund sites located in Hays County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Henderson County Current and former Superfund sites located in Henderson County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Hidalgo County Current and former Superfund sites located in Hidalgo County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Hockley County Current and former Superfund sites located in Hockley County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Houston County Current and former Superfund sites located in Houston County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Howard County Current and former Superfund sites located in Howard County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Howard County Current and former Superfund sites located in Howard County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Hunt County Current and former Superfund sites located in Hunt County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Jasper County Current and former Superfund sites located in Jasper County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Jefferson County Current and former Superfund sites located in Jasper County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Karnes County Current and former Superfund sites located in Karnes County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Kimble County Current and former Superfund sites located in Kimble County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Knox County Current and former Superfund sites located in Knox County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Liberty County Current and former Superfund sites located in Liberty County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Llano County Current and former Superfund sites located in Llano County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Matagorda County Current and former Superfund sites located in Matagorda County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in McCulloch County Current and former Superfund sites located in McCulloch County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Midland County Current and former Superfund sites located in Midland County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Mitchell County Current and former Superfund sites located in Mitchell County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Montgomery County Current and former Superfund sites located in Montgomery County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Moore County Current and former Superfund sites located in Moore County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Nacogdoches County Current and former Superfund sites located in Nacogdoches County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Navarro County Current and former Superfund sites located in Navarro County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Newton County Current and former Superfund sites located in Newton County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Nueces County Current and former Superfund sites located in Nueces County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Ochiltree County Current and former Superfund sites located in Ochiltree County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Orange County Current and former Superfund sites located in Orange County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Rusk County Current and former Superfund sites located in Rusk County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in San Patricio County Current and former Superfund sites located in San Patricio County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Shelby County Current, proposed, and former Superfund sites located in Shelby County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Swisher County Information from the EPA about this federal Superfund site in Swisher County. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Tarrant County Current and former Superfund sites located in Tarrant County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Taylor County Current and former Superfund sites located in Taylor County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Titus County Current and former Superfund sites located in Titus County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Tom Green County Current, proposed, and former Superfund sites located in Tom Green County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Van Zandt County Current and former Superfund sites located in Van Zandt County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Waller County Current and former Superfund sites located in Waller County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Superfund Sites in Zavala County Current and former Superfund sites located in Zavala County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.
Topics Under This Category:
Superfund Sites in Parker County Current and former Superfund sites located in Parker County, Texas. Locator map. Links to details about each site.

More, Superfund news from other states:


Vote for Rachel Carson Sense of Water Contest winning photographs

July 18, 2012

It’s the annual competition EPA sponsors for younger people and older people, the Rachel Carson Sense of Water Contest.   Contest officials want you to participate and vote on the photos, to help select the winners:

Wade In And Cast Your Vote For The 2012 Winners Of The Rachel Carson Sense Of Water Contest

2012 July 18
By Kathy Sykes

“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of year, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.” Rachel Carson from “The Sea Around Us

For the past six years, I have had the privilege of overseeing the Rachel Carson Sense of  Wonder contest. The purpose is to create artistic expressions through photography, poetry, essays and dance that capture the sense and appreciation of the environment. This year’s contest focused on water in recognition of the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act. Teams of young persons and older have expressed appreciation for water through extraordinary and precious expressions of art. From raindrops on a blade of grass, to a gentle rain in a forest, to waves in the ocean as far as the eye can see, we see, taste and feel water.

I have been heartened to receive messages from grandparents and grandchildren, parents and children, teachers and students, and nature lovers of all ages, who appreciate the teaching of Rachel Carson.

Andre Gide, a French Nobel laureate for literature wrote, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Many of our teams did just that, discovering and exploring water and nature with a new sense of wonder. And just as the pleasing as Handel’s water music was for King George, I too have been thrilled by the notes from participants:

  • “thanks for giving this opportunity to kids to rethink about environment and nature”
  • “we had a great time completing this contest.”
  • “such a wonderful project!!!”
  • “when will EPA announce the 2013 contest and what will the theme be?”

Our judges were also impressed by the imaginative entries from teams that worked across generations to discover and enjoy the beauty of water. It was a quite a challenge for them to select finalists from so many lovely works. Now it is your chance to help us select the 2012 winners of the Rachel Carson Sense of Water Contest here.

About the Author: Kathy Sykes is a Senior Advisor for Aging and Sustainability in the Office or Research and Development at the U.S. EPA.  She grew up in Madison, WI and has been working at the U.S. EPA since 1998. She believes the arts can serve as an environmental educational tool and foster appreciation and protection for the natural world.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

It’s  worthy and fun enterprise — and some of the photographs will make you gasp, and some may bring tears to your eyes.  Go see, and vote for the winners.

English: Rachel Carson Conducts Marine Biology...

Rachel Carson conducts marine biology research with USFWS colleague Bob Hines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Meanwhile, back in reality, Superfund cleanup of Torrance DDT site continues

July 11, 2012

English: Map of Superfund sites in the US stat...

Map of Superfund sites in California. Red indicates sites currently on final National Priority List, yellow is proposed for the list, green means a site deleted (usually due to having been cleaned up). Data from United States Environmental Protection Agency CERCLIS database available at http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/phonefax/products.htm. Retrieved April 24, 2010 with last update reported as March 31, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s near midsummer, so the sputtering of right-wing and anti-science propaganda calls for a “return to DDT” should begin to abate, absent a serious outbreak of West Nile Virus human infections, or some fit of stupidity on the part of DDT advocates.

DDT remains a deadly poison, and you, American Taxpayer, are on the hook for millions of dollars needed to clean up legacy DDT manufacturing sites across the nation.  Contrary to bizarre claims, DDT really is a poison.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works constantly at these cleanups.  Comes this press release from EPA talking about a small success, a $14.6 million settlement with past property owners or users of sites in Torrance, California, designated for cleanup under the Superfund.  The money will pay for cleanup of groundwater at the sites.

Links to sources other than EPA, and illustrations are added here.

EPA Reaches $14.6 million Settlement for Groundwater Cleanup at Torrance Superfund Sites

Release Date: 07/10/2012
Contact Information: Nahal Mogharabi, mogharabi.nahal@epa.gov, 213-244-1815

Plant will Treat a Million Gallons per Day, Prevent Spread of Contamination

LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached a $14.6 million settlement with four companies for the construction of a groundwater treatment system at the Montrose and Del Amo Superfund sites in Torrance, Calif. Construction of the treatment system is the first step in the cleanup of groundwater contaminated by chemicals used to manufacture DDT and synthetic rubber over three decades.

Once operational, the system will extract up to 700 gallons of water per minute, or a total of a million gallons each day, removing monochlorobenzene and benzene, and re-injecting the cleaned, treated water back into the aquifer. The treated water will not be served as drinking water, but will instead be re-injected to surround the contamination and prevent it from any further movement into unaffected groundwater areas. Construction of the treatment system is expected to be completed in 18 months. EPA will pursue further settlements with the four companies and other parties to ensure that additional cleanup actions are taken and the groundwater treatment system is operated and maintained until cleanup levels are met.

“One of the toxic legacies of DDT and synthetic rubber manufacturing is polluted groundwater,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “The treatment plant will be a milestone for the site, protecting the groundwater resources for the thousands of people who live or work near these former facilities.”

Montrose Chemical Corporation of California manufactured the pesticide DDT from 1947 until 1982. Monochlorobenzene was a raw material used in making DDT. The Montrose site was placed on the EPA’s National Priorities List (NPL) in 1989. The Del Amo Superfund site, located adjacent to the Montrose site, was formerly a synthetic rubber manufacturing facility that used benzene, naphthalene and ethyl benzene. The Del Amo site was placed on the NPL in September of 2002. Groundwater contamination from both sites has co-mingled and will be cleaned up by this single treatment system.

The four responsible parties for this settlement are: Montrose, Bayer CropScience Inc., News Publishing Australia Limited, and Stauffer Management Company LLC. In addition to constructing the treatment system, these parties will also pay oversight costs incurred by EPA and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.

To date, extensive investigations and cleanup actions have been performed at both sites. EPA’s DDT soil removal actions in the neighborhood near the Montrose site were completed in 2002. In 1999, Shell began cleaning-up the Del Amo Superfund site, constructing a multi-layer impermeable cap over the waste pits and installation of the soil-vapor extraction and treatment system. Additional soil and soil gas cleanups at the Del Amo site are slated to begin in 2013.

The proposed consent decree for the settlement, lodged with the federal district court by the U.S. Department of Justice on July 9, 2012, is subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval. A copy of the proposed decree is available on the Justice Department website at: http://www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html

For more information on the Del Amo and Montrose Superfund Sites, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/socal/superfund/index.html

###

Follow the U.S. EPA’s Pacific Southwest region on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EPAregion9
And join the LinkedIn group: http://www.linkedin.com/e/vgh/1823773/

More: 

Map of NPL sites in contiguous US

Map of NPL sites in contiguous US (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Mercury Poisoning Prevention (video from AOL.com)

December 28, 2011

Video – Some fish have levels of mercury so high that it may be harmful, especially for pregnant women and young children. Find out if you may have been exposed to mercury.

AOL.com Video – Mercury Poisoning Prevention, posted with vodpod

Remember these prevention tips.

Ask yourself:  If mercury poisoning is not a problem worthy of EPA’s new standards to prevent mercury pollution, why are health officials warning us to restrict our intake of fish that soak up the mercury emitted by coal-fired power plants?

 

[No, I can't figure out why the video doesn't show here.  Look at the VodPod widget in the right column, a bit lower, and look at the video there.  Or, click on the link, and go to the site with the video.]


Why you should be concerned about mercury pollution

December 28, 2011

Mercury poisoning marches through our culture with a 400-year-old trail, at least.  “Mad as a hatter” refers to the nerve damage hatmakers in Europe demonstrated, nerve damage we now know came from mercury poisoning.

In the 20th century annals of pollution control, the Minimata disaster stands as a monument to unintended grotesque consequences of pollution, of mercury poisoning.

A key Japanese documentary on the disaster is now available from Zakka Films on DVD, with English subtitles.

Anyone who scoffs at EPA’s four-decades of work to reduce mercury pollution should watch this film before bellyaching about damage to industry if we don’t allow industry to kill babies and kittens in blind, immoral pursuit of profit at public expense.

American Elephants, for example, is both shameless and reckless  in concocting lies about mercury pollution regulation (that site will not allow comments that do not sing in harmony with the pro-pollution campaign (I’d love for someone to prove me wrong)).  Almost every claim made at that post is false.  Mercury is not harmless; mercury from broken CFL bulbs cannot begin to compare to mercury in fish and other animals; mercury pollution is not minuscule (mercury warnings stand in all 48 contiguous states, warning against consumption of certain fish).  President Obama has never urged anything but support for the coal-fired power industry — although he has expressed concerns about pollution, as any sane human would.

Republicans have lost their moral compass, and that loss is demonstrated in the unholy campaign for pollution, the campaign against reducing mercury emissions.  It’s tragic.  Action will be required in November to stop the tragedy from spreading.  Will Americans respond as they should at the ballot boxes?

Can you watch “Minimata:  The Victims and Their World,” and not urge stronger controls on mercury emissions?  Can you support the murder of children and workers, for profit?


Ronald Banks: Keep EPA’s regulation

August 26, 2011

In a letter to the editor of the Leavenworth (Kansas) Times, July 11, 2011, Ronald Banks makes the case simply, succintly and quite accurately, for keeping regulatory agencies that protect our health and the environment:

Ronald Banks
Leavenworth

To the editor:
As an independent, I often find my political opinions “between a rock and a hard place.”

A big concern is cutting or defunding programs or agencies to save money. I can’t say much about SEC, FDA, or any other alphabet agency, except the EPA. As a retired Registered Environmental Manager, I have some experience dealing with those pesky, business-busting regulations.

I would like to persuade the spending hawks to reflect on why the regulations were enacted in the first place. Pesticides were abused and found in our water, air and accumulated in our food as described in the seminal 1962 book, “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson.  Hazardous waste dumps were uncovered at Love Canal.

A dump site was also found in Leavenworth.  Water contamination as shown in the movie, “Erin Brokovich,” from PG&E plants in California; not to mention BP’s oil spill.  E. coli bacterial contamination in hamburger, produce and water, lead in paint, smog/particulate smoke in the air, acid rain, constant oil/gas/ diesel spills on land and sea, have been caused by ironical business cost-cutting on environmental compliance.

Just today I learned Massey Energy compromised safety in its coal mine accident that killed 29 workers.

Don’t get me wrong, I know environmental up-keep is expensive; but it is a public good that must be placed in the fixed costs of a business.

It is not that this information is not known to be true, most would agree they want safe water, air and food. Maybe a reason is in our own psychology?
I have recently learned in the latest “Scientific American Mind” that a study by psychologist Ullrich Ecker showed that “our memory is constantly connecting new facts to old and tying different aspects of a situation together, so that we may still unconsciously draw on facts we know to be wrong to make decisions later,” (p12).

In a more political way we also like to see the other party hurt, it feels so good that the feeling unifies a party, even if it hurts us all. As long as the EPA is cut and you are passionate for the cuts factual consequences of the cuts and the emotional consolidation of cheer-leading, may overshadow the good of not cutting.  Remember, cuts at the top filter down to our state, county and city; our water, air and food.

Face it. If there isn’t someone guarding the environment, we won’t have a safe and clean environment.
So, what I have said above will be a “hard sell” no matter how good my argument. Let’s not jeopardize the nation’s health for lobbied cost-cutting budgetary reasons.

Copyright 2011 Leavenworth Times. Some rights reserved

Do you agree?


Tea partiers: Constipated, now in the dark — what else can they screw up?

July 9, 2011

Life is just a constant bitch for tea partiers.

Rand Paul revealed why he’s full of . . . that certain fecality, shall we say.  He did that in a hearing about light bulbs, and appliances.  Energy conservation gives Rand Paul formication (look it up).

Joker burns money - Warner Brothers publicity still, with Heath Ledger as the Joker

Burning money: Republicans prefer more heat than light, less energy conservation, and the libertarian, self-help yourself to others' money philosophy popularized in recent movies.

But what about efforts to undo the energy conservation bill that practically forces long-lived, low-energy light bulbs on us?  The Tea Party doesn’t like that idea, either.  Michael Patrick Leahy, writing at the blog for Rupert Murdoch’s Broadside Books, explains why he thinks the Tea Party should oppose Fred Upton’s bill to repeal the energy standards Rand Paul castigated.

Basically, none of these guys knows beans about energy, nor much about the technology or science of electricity and lighting — they just like to whine.

Leahy wrote:

Section 3 [of the “Better Use of Light Bulbs Act,” HR 2417] states that “No Federal, State, or local requirement or standard regarding energy efficient lighting shall be effective to the extent that the requirement or standard can be satisfied only by installing or using lamps containing mercury.” This reads to me that Congress is attacking the mercury laden CFL bulbs. The point of the individual economic choice guaranteed in the Constitution, however, is that Congress ought not to favor CFLs over incandescents, just as it ought not to favor incandescents over CFLs. I’m no fan of CFL bulbs personally, but look for CFL manufacturers like GE to make this argument against the bill at every opportunity.

Section 4 of the Act is designed to repeal the light bulb efficiency standards in effect in the State of California since January 1 of this year. The standards are essentially the federal standards that will go into effect January 1, 2012, but moved up a year. While I personally question the legal status of these very specific rules promulgated by the California Energy Commission based on a vague and non-specific 2007 California statute, it seems to me that there are serious Constitutional questions surrounding a Federal law prohibiting a State to establish its own product efficiency standards. While a good argument can be made that the Commerce Clause grants Congress the right to repeal California state regulations, a reasonable argument could be made by opponents of the bill that Congress can’t do this because the state of California is merely establishing local standards, which is its right.

Given these concerns about Sections 3 and 4, what purpose does it serve to include them in the bill? Both raise potential objections to the passage of the bill on the floor of the House if it comes to a vote this week.

Now, granted this is the House of Representatives, and not the Senate where Sen. Paul keeps a chair warmed, occasionally.  Still, is it too much to ask the Tea Party to support the bills it asks for?  Leahy said:

A full and open discussion of these issues in public hearings held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee would have been the right way to begin a legislative process that would have identified and addressed these potential objections. That’s the course that a Committee Chairman seriously committed to repealing the light bulb ban would have taken. Instead, Chairman Upton has followed this secretive, behind closed doors, last minute rushed vote approach.

There was a hearing in the Senate — good enough for most people — and of course, there were hearings on the issue in the House.  The Tea Party was unconscious at the time.  The bill they’re trying to repeal was a model of moderation as touted by the president when it passed, President George W. Bush — and it’s still a good idea to conserve energy and set standards that require energy conservation (the law does not ban incandescent bulbs).

Also, while they’re complaining about the mercury in Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs), remember, Dear Reader, they oppose letting our Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) protect you from mercury in your drinking water or the air that you breathe.  Pollution is only worrisome to them if they can use worry as a tool to whine about people making life work without pollution.  A rational person would point out that the mercury released by coal-fired power plants to produce the energy required by repeal of the conservation law would more than equal the mercury from all the CFLs, even were all that mercury to be released as pollution (which it isn’t, if properly disposed of):

8 hours: The amount of time a person must be exposed to the mercury in a CFL bulb to acquire the same mercury level as eating a six-ounce can of tuna, according to Climate Progress’s Stephen Lacey.

Is it too much to ask for reason, circumspection, and a touch of wisdom from these guys?  You’re supposed to drink the tea, Tea Party, not smoke it.

Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller (can we get on the no-call list?) says Republicans plan to vote for darkness instead of light next Monday.

A wet shake of the old scrub brush in the general direction of Instapundit, who never met a form of pollution he didn’t prefer over clean water or clean air.

_____________

Update:  Mike the Mad Biologist talks sense about the light bulb vote planned by the dim bulbs:

Because it’s not like more efficient light bulbs would be helpful at all:

The American Council on an Energy Efficient Economy says that the standards would eliminate the need to develop 30 new power plants – or about the electrical demand of Pennsylvania and Tennessee combined.

Only Republicans can make the current crop of Democrats look good…

Mike provides more points that make the Upton bill look simultaneously silly and craven:  The current law does not ban incandescent bulbs at all, for example, one manufacturer has introduced two new incandescent bulbs in the past year.  Tea Party Republicans:  No fact left unignored, no sensible solution left undistorted and unattacked.

Also see:


Rand Paul’s confession: Constipated for years, he can’t see the light

March 17, 2011

In what must be one of the most bizarre but informative exchanges we’ve ever heard from a Tea Partier, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul reveals what bugs so many Tea Partiers.  His toilets don’t work, and haven’t for 20 years.

That’s not supposed to be a straight line for a gag.

You can’t get the information from just listening to him, however — you have to have some additional facts so you can read between the lines.

From this exchange at the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, we learn:

  1. Rand Paul trivializes abortion and women’s rights.  He appears to think babies are similar to incandescent light bulbs; he’s pretty clueless about either pregnancies or light bulbs.  Could there be a more offensive way to introduce this topic, than to claim his right to buy an incandescent light bulb and waste energy is equal, somehow, to a woman’s right to choose whether to carry a baby?
  2. Rand Paul doesn’t know how to shop.  Rand Paul isn’t much of a plumber.  He apparently bought a defective toilet some years ago, one that either doesn’t work or just can’t deal with the amount of effluent he personally produces, and he blames government for his bowel issues and his plumbing issues.  Well-working, low-water-use toilets have been available for decades in Europe and Asia, and are now available in the U.S., but he can’t be bothered to shop for them.  If he could maintain his old, water-wasting toilet, he’d have no kick, of course.  But he can’t be bothered to shop for a plumber who knows plumbing, and he can’t figure out how to do it himself.
  3. Rand Paul is incompetent at economics and constitutional law, at the same time.  Rand Paul thinks government should regulate things for his satisfaction, keeping products available that are no longer economical to produce — and if government fails to force businesses to do his bidding, it’s government’s fault; but the fact that Paul lives in the 19th century in his mind and no one else wants what he wants, never occurs to him.
  4. Rand Paul wants government to subsidize his bad choices.

Oy.

Let’s go to the video:

Can somebody get Rand Paul a competent plumber?  Can somebody show him how to use Google or Bing or Yahoo! to shop for good toilets and good plumbers?   The nation needs Paul to return to sanity, decency, and sanitation.

[Update:  Paul could learn about efficient, U.S.-built toilets, here.]

Am I wrong to think Paul is making an attack on wise conservation in general?  Why?

Paul’s smug, self-satisfied invincibility of incompetence and learned helplessness is appalling.  (Take that, Protein Wisdom; it’s just you, Jeff G. — everybody else sees Ms. Morgan as composed against Paul’s overweening smugness.)

Can somebody explain this to me:  This moment of extreme embarrassment to Sen. Paul is posted by his office at his YouTube site.  What were they thinking?

Somebody give a medal to Energy’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Kathleen Morgan for not teeing off on the guy.  Letting him twist in the wind is good enough.

By the way, the bill Paul complains about?  The manufacturers agreed to the standards voluntarily, and have already agreed to comply — the bill adds no regulations they say they cannot meet; Hogan’s statement noted:

S.398 codifies agreements that were negotiated, signed, and promoted by a cross-section of stakeholders representing consumer advocacy groups, manufacturers, manufacturer trade associations, and energy efficiency advocacy organizations, all of whom support this bill. The negotiated consensus agreements would establish energy conservation standards for 14 products, several of which are in the midst of DOE’s ongoing standards and test procedure rulemakings.

Also constipated:

Resources, good information:


Green Hell? Milloy slanders Ruckelshaus as “mass murderer”

March 10, 2011

This week, EPA bashing took front and center on the performance stage that passes as Congress these days.  There is a school of thought that thinks EPA should be eviscerated because EPA is carrying out the mandate an earlier Congress gave it, to clean up the air.  Especially, the recent assailants claim, EPA should not try to reduce carbon emissions, because clean air might cost something.

Steven Milloy, making stuff up and passing it as fact

Steven Milloy, who makes crude and false claims against William Ruckelshaus, a great lawyer and the hero of the Saturday Night Massacre. Why does Milloy carry such a pathetic grudge?

Wholly apart from the merits, or great lack of merits to those arguments, the anti-EPA crowd is just ugly.

78-year-old William Ruckelshaus, the Hero of the Saturday Night Massacre, a distinguished lawyer and businessman, and the founding Director of EPA who was called back to clean it up after the Reagan administration scandals, granted an interview on EPA bashing to Remapping Debate, an ambitious, independent blog from the Columbia School of Journalism designed to provide information essential to policy debates that too-often gets overlooked or buried.  [Remapping Debate sent a note that they are not affiliated with CSJ; my apologies for the error.]

Ruckelshaus, as always, gave gentlemanly answers to questions about playing politics with science, and bashing good, honest and diligent government workers as a method of political discourse.

Steven Milloy, one of the great carbuncles on the face of climate debate or any science issue, assaulted Ruckelshaus at Milloy’s angry, bitter blog, Green Hell.  Milloy calls Ruckelshaus “a mass-murderer,” a clear invitation for someone to attack the man. Milloy wrote, cravenly:

He’s the 20th century’s only mass murderer to survive and thrive (as a venture capitalist) in the 21st century.

Milloy owes Ruckelshaus an apology and a complete retraction.  I rather hope Ruckelshaus sues — while Milloy will claim the standards under New York Times vs. Sullivan as a defense, because Ruckelshaus is a public figure, I think the only question a jury would have to deal with is how much malice aforethought Milloy exhibits.  Malice is obvious.  Heck, there might not even be a question for a jury — Milloy loses on the law (nothing he claims against Ruckelshaus is accurate or true in any way).

This is much more damning than what got two NPR officials to lose their jobs.

Who will stand up for justice here?  Rep. Upton?  Rep. Boehner?  Anthony Watts?

I tried to offer a correction, and since then have written Milloy demanding an apology and retraction — neither comment has surfaced yet on Milloy’s blog.  Here’s the truth Milloy hasn’t printed:

No, Sweeney did not rule that DDT is not a threat to the environment. He said quite the opposite. Sweeney wrote, in his ruling:

20. DDT can have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish and estuarine organisms when directly applied to the water.

21. DDT is used as a rodenticide. [DDT was used to kill bats in homes and office buildings; this was so effective that, coupled with accidental dosing of bats from their eating insects carrying DDT, it actually threatened to wipe out some species of bat in the southwest U.S.]

22. DDT can have an adverse effect on beneficial animals.

23. DDT is concentrated in organisms and can be transferred through food chains.

On that basis, two federal courts ruled that DDT must be taken off the market completely. Sweeney agreed with the findings of the courts precisely, but he determined that the law did not give him the power to order DDT off the market since the newly-proposed labels of the DDT manufacturers restricted use to emergency health-related tasks. With the benefit of rereading the two federal courts’ decisions, Ruckelshaus noted that the courts said the power was already in the old law, and definitely in the new law. [See, for example, EDF v. Ruckelshaus, 439 F. 2d 584 (1971)]

DDT was banned from use on crops in the U.S. as an ecosystem killer. It still is an ecosystem killer, and it still deserves to be banned.

Ruckelshaus’s order never traveled outside the U.S. DDT has never been banned in most nations of the world, and even though DDT has earned a place on the list of Dirty Dozen most dangerous pollutants, even under the Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty of 2001, DDT is available for use to any country who wishes to use it.

Please get your facts straight.

Would you, Dear Reader,  help spread the word on Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, or any other service you have, that the Brown Lobby has gone too far in it’s error-based propaganda against clean air and those who urge a better environment?  Please?


Debunking Junk Science’s hoax “100 Things You Should Know About DDT”: #14, William Ruckelshaus’s bias

February 17, 2011

Another in a continuing series, showing the errors in JunkScience.com’s list of “100 things you should know about DDT.” (No, these are not in order.) In the summer of 2009, the denialists have trotted this error out again.

At the astonishingly truthfully-named site “Junk Science,” Steven Milloy creates a series of hoaxes with a page titled “100 things you should know about DDT.”  It is loaded with hoaxes about DDT, urging its use, and about Rachel Carson, and about EPA and the federal regulation of DDT, and about malaria and DDT’s role in the ambitious but ill-fated campaign to eradicate malaria operated by the World Health Organization (WHO) from 1955, officially until 1969.  Milloy knows junk science, and he dishes it out with large ladles.

Among what must be 100 errors, Milloy makes this claim, I suppose to suggest that William Ruckelshaus was biased when Rickelshaus headed the Environmental Protection Agency:

14.  William Ruckelshaus, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who made the ultimate decision to ban DDT in 1972, was a member of the Environmental Defense Fund. Ruckelshaus solicited donations for EDF on his personal stationery that read “EDF’s scientists blew the whistle on DDT by showing it to be a cancer hazard, and three years later, when the dust had cleared, EDF had won.”

This is a false statement on Milloy’s site.  After finding no credible source for the claim that Ruckelshaus was ever affiliated with EDF in any way, I contacted Ruckelshaus’s office, and got confirmation that Ruckelshaus was not and never has been affiliated with EDF.  It should be a clue that this claim appears only at sites who impugn Ruckelshaus for his action in banning DDT use in U.S. agriculture.

 

Junk Science's oddly apt logo and slogan

Hiding the truth in plain view: Junk Science is a site that promotes junk science, an unintended flash of honesty at a site that otherwise promotes hoaxes about science. Note the slogan. Does this site cover its hoaxes by stating plainly that it promotes "all the junk science that's fit to debunk?"

It is also highly unlikely that he ever wrote a fund-raising letter for the group, certainly not while he was a public official.  The implicit claim of Junk Science.com, that William Ruckelshaus was not a fair referee in the DDT case, is a false claim.

I asked Milloy to correct errors at his site, and he has steadfastly refused.

Here is what Milloy’s point #14 would say, with the falsehoods removed:

14.  William Ruckelshaus [was] the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who made the ultimate decision to ban DDT in 1972[.], was a member of the Environmental Defense Fund. Ruckelshaus solicited donations for EDF on his personal stationery that read “EDF’s scientists blew the whistle on DDT by showing it to be a cancer hazard, and three years later, when the dust had cleared, EDF had won.”

Below the fold:  William D. Ruckelshaus’s “official” biography, if you call him today, February 17, 2011.  You should note, there is no mention of any work with EDF.

Read the rest of this entry »


Was your home built before 1978? Information on lead poisoning and abatement

January 23, 2011

EPA intro to lead pollution siteIt’s an ad campaign from the Ad Council.  This blog does not take ads — so we have to list the ad as  regular post.

It’s a public service ad, of course, and this one is important, relating to lead pollution.


EPA at 40: Director Jackson claims too much?

December 18, 2010

EPA turned 40 on December 2.* EPA Director Lisa Jackson somehow wangled a few inches from the Wall Street Journal’s opinion page to extol the virtues of the agency.

She’s come under fire from some quarters, including especially the Home for Unwed Crabs,  for overstating the case.  Did she?

EPA Director Lisa P. Jackson

EPA Director Lisa P. Jackson

Or is this one more case of using environmentalists as scapegoats by the hard right, and other know-nothings and know-not-enoughs?

Jackson’s piece makes mild defense of a great idea in government, I think.  To me, the critics appear hysterical in comparison.

In tracking this down, I discovered that Matt Ridley had been given some really bum information about Rachel Carson, DDT and malaria, which appears in his new book, The Rational Optimist. To his credit, Ridley made a quick correction of the grossest distortions.  He defends the premises, still, however, which I find troubling. There may be subject for a later comment.

Disinformation is insidious.  Claims against the accuracy and reputation of Rachel Carson follow the stories of Millard Fillmore’s bathtub, but with darker, malignant intent.

Seriously:  What does Lisa Jackson overstate here?

The EPA Turns 40

‘Job-killing’ environmental standards help employ more than 1.5 million people.

Forty years ago today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency opened its doors, beginning a history of improvements to our health and environment. We reach this milestone exactly one month after the midterm elections strengthened the influence of groups and individuals who threaten to roll back the EPA’s efforts.

Last month’s elections were not a vote for dirtier air or more pollution in our water. No one was sent to Congress with a mandate to increase health threats to our children or return us to the era before the EPA’s existence when, for example, nearly every meal in America contained elements of pesticides linked to nerve damage, cancer and sometimes death. In Los Angeles, smog-thick air was a daily fact of life, while in New York 21,000 tons of toxic waste awaited discovery beneath the small community of Love Canal. Six months before the EPA’s creation, flames erupted from pollution coating the surface of Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River, nearly reaching high enough to destroy two rail bridges.

These are issues that are above politics. The last 40 years have seen hard-won advances supported by both sides of the aisle, and today the EPA plays an essential role in our everyday lives. When you turn on the shower or make a cup of coffee, the water you use is protected from industrial pollution and untreated sewage. In fact, drinking water in Cleveland was recently shown to be cleaner than a premium brand of bottled water. You can drive your car or catch a bus without breathing dangerous lead pollution. At lunch, would you prefer your food with more, or less, protection from pesticides?

The most common arguments against these protections are economic, especially as we continue to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Fortunately, the last 40 years show no evidence that environmental protection hinders economic growth. Neither the recent crisis nor any other period of economic turmoil was caused by environmental protection. In fact, a clean environment strengthens our economy.

Special interests have spent millions of dollars making the case that we must choose the economy or the environment, attacking everything from removing lead in gasoline to cleaning up acid rain. They have consistently exaggerated the cost and scope of EPA actions, and in 40 years their predictions have not come true.

We have seen GDP grow by 207% since 1970, and America remains the proud home of storied companies that continue to create opportunities. Instead of cutting productivity, we’ve cut pollution while the number of American cars, buildings and power plants has increased. Alleged “job-killing” regulations have, according to the Commerce Department, sparked a homegrown environmental protection industry that employs more than 1.5 million Americans.

Even in these challenging times, the EPA has been part of the solution, using Recovery Act investments in water infrastructure, clean-diesel innovation and other projects to create jobs and prepare communities for more growth in the years ahead.

The EPA’s efforts thrive on American ingenuity and entrepreneurship. Holding polluters accountable sparks innovations like the Engelhard Corporation’s catalytic converter, which pioneered the reduction of toxic emissions from internal combustion engines, and DuPont’s replacements for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which protected the ozone layer while turning a profit for the company. One executive told me that the EPA’s recent standards for greenhouse gas emissions from cars will help create hundreds of jobs in a state where his company operates—a state whose U.S. senators have both opposed the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

These attacks are aimed at the EPA, but their impacts are felt by all Americans. Pollutants like mercury, smog and soot are neurotoxins and killers that cause developmental problems and asthma in kids, and heart attacks in adults. We will not strengthen our economy by exposing our communities and our workers to more pollution.

In these politically charged times, we urge Congress and the American people to focus on results from common-sense policies, not inaccurate doomsday speculations. That is how we can confront our nation’s economic and environmental challenges and lay a foundation for the next 40 years and beyond.

Ms. Jackson is administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

* [Oops. Same birthday as Donna. Happy birthday, Donna! Happy EPA's 40th (yours, too? can't be much more, can it?)]


Quote of the moment: 1971, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia orders a review of the safety of DDT

November 23, 2010

Excerpted from ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND, INCORPORATED et al., Petitioners, v. William D. RUCKELSHAUS, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency & Environmental Protection Agency, Respondents, Izaak Walton League of America, Montrose Chemical Corporation of California, State of New York, Intervenors, 439 F.2d 584 (1971); Chief Judge David L. Bazelon wrote the decision.

This is a petition for review of an order of the Secretary of Agriculture,1 refusing to suspend the federal registration of the pesticide DDT or to commence the formal administrative procedures that could terminate that registration.

Judge David L. Bazelon, Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

Born in Wisconsin, David L. Bazelon grew up in Chicago and practiced law there. In 1949, President Truman named him to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, often described as the country's most influential court, next to the Supreme Court. At 40, he was the youngest judge ever appointed to that court. From 1962-1978 he served as chief judge, retiring in 1986 as a senior judge.

*      *      *      *      *

We conclude that the order was based on an incorrect interpretation of the controlling statute, and accordingly remand the case for further proceedings.  In this case the Secretary has made a number of findings with respect to DDT. On the basis of the available scientific evidence he has concluded that (1) DDT in large doses has produced cancer in test animals and various injuries in man, but in small doses its effect on man is unknown; (2) DDT is toxic to certain birds, bees, and fish, but there is no evidence of harm to the vast majority of species of nontarget organisms; (3) DDT has important beneficial uses in connection with disease control and protection of various crops. These and other findings led the Secretary to conclude ‘that the use of DDT should continue to be reduced in an orderly, practicable manner which will not deprive mankind of uses which are essential to the public health and welfare. To this end there should be continuation of the comprehensive study of essentiality of particular uses and evaluations of potential substitutes.’38

There is no reason, however, for that study to be conducted outside the procedures provided by statute. The Secretary may, of course, conduct a reasonable preliminary investigation before taking action under the statute. Indeed, the statute expressly authorizes him to consult a scientific advisory committee, apart from the committee that may be appointed after the issuance of a cancellation notice.39 But when, as in this case, he reaches the conclusion that there is a substantial question about the safety of a registered item, he is obliged to initiate the statutory procedure that results in referring the matter first to a scientific advisory committee and then to a public hearing. We recognize, of course, that one important function of that procedure is to afford the registrant an opportunity to challenge the initial decision of the Secretary. But the hearing, in particular, serves other functions as well. Public hearings bring the public into the decision-making process, and create a record that facilitates judicial review.40 If hearings are held only after the Secretary is convinced beyond a doubt that cancellation is necessary, then they will be held too seldom and too late in the process to serve either of those functions effectively.

The Secretary’s statement in this case makes it plain that he found a substantial question concerning the safety of DDT, which in his view warranted further study. Since we have concluded that that is the standard for the issuance of cancellation notices under the FIFRA, the case must be remanded to the Secretary with instructions to issue notices with respect to the remaining uses of DDT, and thereby commence the administrative process.

*        *        *        *        *

We stand on the threshold of a new era in the history of the long and fruitful collaboration of administrative agencies and reviewing courts. For many years, courts have treated administrative policy decisions with great deference, confining judicial attention primarily to matters of procedure.48 On matters of substance, the courts regularly upheld agency action, with a nod in the direction of the ‘substantial evidence’ test,49 and a bow to the mysteries of administrative expertise.50 Courts occasionally asserted, but less often exercised, the power to set aside agency action on the ground that an impermissible factor had entered into the decision, or a crucial factor had not been considered. Gradually, however, that power has come into more frequent use, and with it, the requirement that administrators articulate the factors on which they base their decisions.51

Strict adherence to that requirement is especially important now that the character of administrative litigation is changing. As a result of expanding doctrines of standing and reviewability,52 and new statutory causes of action,53 courts are increasingly asked to review administrative action that touches on fundamental personal interests in life, health, and liberty. These interests have always had a special claim to judicial protection, in comparison with the economic interests at stake in a ratemaking or licensing proceeding.

To protect these interests from administrative arbitrariness, it is necessary, but not sufficient, to insist on strict judicial scrutiny of administrative action. For judicial review alone can correct only the most egregious abuses. Judicial review must operate to ensure that the administrative process itself will confine and control the exercise of discretion.54 Courts should require administrative officers to articulate the standards and principles that govern their discretionary decisions in as much detail as possible.55 Rules and regulations should be freely formulated by administrators, and revised when necessary.56 Discretionary decisions should more often be supported with findings of fact and reasoned opinions.57 When administrators provide a framework for principled decision-making, the result will be to diminish the importance of judicial review by enhancing the integrity of the administrative process, and to improve the quality of judicial review in those cases where judicial review is sought.

Remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

(President Nixon’s Secretary of Agriculture Clifford M. Hardin reviewed DDT regulations and decided no further action was required — since 1958, USDA had been reducing and eliminating DDT from use on USDA lands, as was the Department of the Interior.  Environmental Defense Fund sued, arguing more action should have been required.  In a complex decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered more study of the issue.  By the time of the decision, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had been established, and EPA Director William D. Ruckelshaus took Hardin’s place as defendant, with EPA assuming USDA’s position as defendant agency.  EPA’s review resulted in a ban on use of DDT on crops in the U.S.)

Some historians and many critics of EPA’s decision to ban DDT from agricultural use in the U.S. fail to acknowledge the importance of this ruling.  Judge Bazelon said that great caution alone is not sufficient on the part of administrators, and he ordered that the evidence against DDT be placed on the public record for public scrutiny.  “Public scrutiny” in this case would mean analysis by scientists, pesticide manufacturers, farming and farm support organizations, health workers, policy makers, and reporters.

On one hand, this decision tends to favor DDT advocates.  Judge Bazelon said the administrator in charge of carrying out FIFRA, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, must give advocates of DDT the basis for the ruling: “On the basis of the available scientific evidence he has concluded that (1) DDT in large doses has produced cancer in test animals and various injuries in man, but in small doses its effect on man is unknown; (2) DDT is toxic to certain birds, bees, and fish, but there is no evidence of harm to the vast majority of species of nontarget organisms; (3) DDT has important beneficial uses in connection with disease control and protection of various crops.”

On the other hand, Bazelon’s order means that the significant harms of DDT must  be spelled out in public — so that the administrator’s ruling can be contested if it does not do what FIFRA requires.  In other places in the decision, Judge Bazelon notes that Congress had required, through FIFRA, that a pesticide determined to be uncontrollably dangerous must be taken off the market, under the justification that it was “mislabeled.”  Lower courts had already made that determination on DDT.  Bazelon’s order set the stage to require the administrator to ban DDT as a matter of law — the administrator being  the Secretary of Agriculture originally, or the Director of EPA under the reorganization of the government that created EPA .

Critics of William Ruckelshaus’s decision to ban DDT miss this point of the law.  Under the findings of the nearly year-long hearing in EPA’s administrative law courts, DDT was found to be an uncontrollable poison in the wild.  FIFRA required such a pesticide to have its registration cancelled, with very little wiggle room to make a case for any continued use of the stuff.  Ruckelshaus’s action stopped the immediate shutdown of DDT manufacturing in the U.S.   This proved to be a mixed benefit decision.  While the U.S. benefited financially from export of DDT, that the U.S. exported a chemical banned for most uses inside the U.S. proved to be a sore point in foreign relations with other nations; also most of the manufacturing sites were highly contaminated, so much so that the manufacturers declared bankruptcy rather than stick around to clean them up under the rules of the Superfund which took effect in 1984.  Taxpayer dollars now pay for massive cleanup operations of DDT manufacturing sites in California, Michigan, and Alabama, and other places.


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