Union of Concerned Scientists is only really in top form when a Republican is in the White House because when the GOP is in control, they can be angry outsiders, but when a Democrat is in control, a bunch of their employees leave and join the administration. After the Obama election, they even lost their President to Department of Energy - ironic, because they hate energy, but preventing nuclear and natural gas was a cornerstone of their work so it made sense to officially engage in that effort.

They are not sending employees to this one. The Trump administration is instead manna from heaven for politically-motivated organizations that pretend to care about science, because they can create separate organizations which look 'independent.' Like the new Independent Particulate Matter Review Panel (IPMRP), all Democrats, and all devoted to manufacturing new concern about pollution when the air quality in America is actually fantastic.

They have done it by embracing correlation claiming deaths from tiny particles that can only be detected with an electron microscope - but in their press kits they make sure to create images using actual pollution in places like Beijing.

Virtual pollution - for people who believe that it takes 30 gallons of water to make a cup of coffee

On October 10th, 2018, EPA dismissed some members of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) due to concerns about their transparency and questions regarding their ability to provide reviews of EPA air quality standards in a timely fashion.(1) Though the panel has existed since 1977, during the Trump administration its university members had become obstructionist while other science advisors for EPA had begun to disbelieve the narrative about statistical correlation of invisible particles and health outcomes.

Though numerous outside experts had been refuting their claims for a decade it had become dogma inside EPA. 

The problem; it had no scientific evidence.

Read also: Remember That '140 Liters Of Water In My Cup Of Coffee' Theory? Here's Why Virtual Water Is Bogus

After 20 years of failing using statistics, first to show deaths, then to show any increased harm, EPA's legitimate advisors "asked the awkward questions" I tell journalism students and science writers to ask during my talks, even of people and science they like. Instead of answering questions with evidence, they began to clamor to add more people to CASAC, insisting they were under-staffed. When EPA instead dismissed many of them, activists pivoted and made it about Trump. 

In a culture where media and environmental groups are in open war on Republicans, everything is going to be about Trump. Even Slate's health and science section is stuffed full of Trump.(2) So it was no real surprise that activists who had gotten gigs controlling EPA from the inside were disgruntled. Being part of government was a big feather in their caps.

But such framing is dishonest. When President Obama's EPA boss Gina McCarthy flew around the country on Earth Day to tell us all to emit fewer emissions, I did not suggest Obama told her to spread global warming on Earth Day, nor did anyone else. We were critical of her and the chronic 'I agonized over it and decided this was necessary to do good works' rationalization we get but no one suggested the president had direct involvement in her poor judgment.

Today, environmentalists and other Democrats and their aligned journalists try to claim that the President of the United States is micromanaging an obscure panel inside EPA when most of the people who had heard of it were critical of it - because they were chronically late every single time they insisted they were essential to helping promote better air quality.

The reasons to get rid of most of the group were sound - the reasons to create a new group composed of former members are political

The Clean Air Act requires reviews of standards every five years by law, but EPA has missed that deadline routinely - in large part because of CASAC desire to maintain their importance, by continuing to create new wars to fight. To do so they kept defining deviant air quality down, which led to EPA inability to do anything on time. CASAC tried to frame itself as some sort of Supreme Court of Science inside EPA, when they were more like environmental lobbyists.

During the Trump era, they really lost their minds. CASAC members opposed to any rethink of their beliefs about PM2.5 may have felt their obscure committee was shielded from criticism and they could behave in any way they desired but that turned out to not be the case. Career scientists inside EPA wanted them gone too, like they wanted an end to all "secret sauce" findings that lacked any transparency and rampant sue-and-settle agreements used to bypass Congress.

Now Union of Concerned Scientists has given a hand-picked cadre of their allies new life

UCS very much liked their role as fifth columnists inside EPA as well and have now helped the members removed, all Democrats, most not experts in atmospheric science, chemistry, biology, or chemistry but instead having "environmental" in their titles, create a new organization to "put the science back in air pollution standard setting." Yet it looks they will continue to make recommendations without doing any science at all. 

They claim in their press release, rewritten in all of the usual places because Trump sells papers, that this is about defending science, but we see that same claim from people against vaccines, food, and nuclear energy.

"Secret sauce" of PM2.5

I would like to see the science these claims evolved from, as would numerous impartial air quality experts. They have never seen the data from the Dockery paper which set off their manufactured concern about PM2.5. No one in their group has. Nor have I, because the authors refuse to share it.(3)  That means there is no science. Instead, there is just epidemiology which, along with mouse studies, has become the chief weapon of activists in their war on progress.

And we have made progress. On air quality maps where the actual harmful pollution, PM10, is shown, America is as clean as remote Siberia. It's only using PM2.5, despite evidence it is harmful, that lets weathermen on TV claim we are in peril.

There are even efforts to claim PM1.0 is a concern. If activists are allowed to keep making things up, there won't be clean air anywhere in the world.

We have shown repeatedly that there are zero deaths attributable to PM2.5 - not in the entire history of EPA. We even showed instances where deaths went down. When that happened they regrouped and now claim it makes asthma worse and that reduces life expectancy. Well, so does perfume.

My father suffered from asthma my entire life and he would have laughed at them if they claimed invisible small particles were as harmful to him as pollution. 

It's deceptive and manipulative to scare people with breathing issues. It's unethical. But it is completely expected from Union of Concerned Scientists. And that means this Independent Particulate Matter Review Panel (IPMRP) is just another group of activists trying to look like they care about public health.


(1) EPA had created a standard where anyone who consulted for industry could not serve on the panel, but if you got grants from EPA you could. So EPA had been giving out grants for people who wanted to claim PM2.5 was killing us while making sure no one who disagreed could be on the panel, but people being paid to say so were dominant. When EPA declared that for fairness EPA fundees could not sit on a panel evaluating their own claims, they broke into open rebellion. 

(2) It is reasonable to ask if all Slate health and science articles are written on a dare.

(3) That and Tyrone Hayes claims about a pesticide turning boy frogs into girl frogs are two key examples of papers where no one has seen the data yet somehow the papers have not been retracted.