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Environmental ideology versus science

By From page A8 | June 16, 2014

This is the latest of a series of topical columns titled The Right Stuff to promote thought and ensure accuracy within political campaigns and issues. Our objective is to promote interest among voters to separate fact from opinion or fiction. It is time for voters to demand representatives who promote the founding principles of our country at every level of government.

In the second column in the series, we examined the unresponsiveness of our legislative representatives in general terms. This report presents specific facts related to environmental rulings to illustrate how costly that attitude can be. The numbers are hard to believe, but I will meet with anyone to document the accuracy with public law and policy.

The Solano County Taxpayers Association spent three years identifying five findings that create this extreme waste. Dixon, Woodland and Davis are under assault from application of these rules. Do not dismiss this if you live elsewhere. All cities are under this threat.

Finding 1: The Clean Water Act prohibits consideration of economic cost when determining treatment.

Comment. A law requiring automobile design to ensure no deaths in accidents could be written, but no manufacturer would build it because few could afford the price. Politicians approved the Clean Water Act because the cost is paid by tax dollars.

Finding 2. The standard for determining health hazard is unrealistic. Carcinogen development from long-term exposure of 1:1 million is arbitrary policy without scientific justification.

Comment. This standard is that only one person in a city of 100,000 will develop cancer effects from allowable pollutants in 700 years. Current cancer rates indicate 112,000 people will die of cancer of all types in that period. Vacaville is forced to spend $150 million to reduce the city death loss from cancer in the next 70 years from 11,200 to 11,119. The Clean Water Act permits use of 1:100,000, but the water board refused to permit that option even though a member admitted it would have required no upgrade.

Finding 3. California water boards do not adhere to the existing Environmental Protection Agency methodology which states, “conclusions drawn from the science are identified separately from policy judgments and risk management decisions, and that the use of default values or methods, as well as the use of assumptions in risk assessments, are clearly articulated.”
Comment. Every environmental official (regional, state and federal) whom we have asked has denied having the research data to support their decisions.

Finding 4. The water treatment mandates are made by unelected officials who have no legislative oversight and whose decisions are not subject to appeal.

Comment. Unacceptable delegation of authority by state legislation.

Finding 5. The EPA assumes a linear progression vice an expanding progression for determining toxicity effect of pollutants.

Comment. Studies normally indicate expanding toxicity progression, e.g., doubling the pollutant level would quadruple or more the deleterious effect.

Costs of unnecessary wastewater upgrades mandated by water quality control boards could not be determined. A California Revolving Loan Fund for local governments had an outstanding loan balance of $16.55 billion on Aug. 29, 2009, but the water board could not identify what portions were for essential expansion and repairs versus mandated upgrades for questionable science.

Did you vote for the incumbent representatives at the past election? Does their record prove they are due for replacement? Rep. John Garamendi, California Sen. Lois Wolk and Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada were briefed on the above findings and did nothing. Findings 1, 2 and 5 require congressional action; findings 3 and 4 require state action.

For a comprehensive review of their voting, check:

  • Garamendi: https://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/29664/john-garamendi#.U3Z87aCW1Kg.
  • Wolk: https://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/29062/lois-wolk#.U3Z_qKCW1Kg.
  • Yamada: http://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/81977/mariko-yamada#.U3Z_96CW1Kg.

Earl Heal is a Vacaville resident and member of The Right Stuff Committee, a committee of the Solano County Republican Party. Reach him at [email protected]

Earl Heal


Discussion | 11 comments

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  • David SoxJune 16, 2014 - 4:51 am

    As an environmental professional for 37 years, I was prepared to refute this gentleman's arguments when I read his opening paragraphs, but I must admit that I agree with everything he says, Having said that, I have to admit in all fairness that my environmental expertise was in the softer laws normally exercised under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). I still believe that many standards of harm from pollutants, especially related to alleged triggers of cancer, are excessive, and thus their economic costs also unreasonably excessive.

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  • Rick WoodJune 17, 2014 - 12:38 am

    You'll get no argument from me, David. I generally believe our wealth as a nation has allowed us to be indulgent when it comes to environmental protection. We're not feeling so wealthy now, and it would be good for policy-makers at all levels to reconsider the presumption that we actually want the level of protection the laws we have require. We certainly don't want t abandon environmental protection, but we need to balance it with cost and the risks we accept in other aspects of our lives.

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  • Mike KirchubelJune 17, 2014 - 10:56 am

    Rick, I don't want to put words in your blog, so tell me if I'm understanding you correctly: We need to place a value on an average American's life and then determine what level of environmental protection balances it out. The value, of course, would change as our economy fluctuates. An American life would be more valuable in good economic times and less valuable in bad. Right? Sounds sort of Pornac-ian.

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  • rlw895June 17, 2014 - 11:59 am

    Mike: That might be an approach used to bring some rationality to the process of setting regulations. As it is now, too many of our regulations are based on "no impact" standards.

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  • mike kirchubelJune 16, 2014 - 6:12 am

    I read and reread this piece and i can find no mention of the carcinogen Earl is talking about. Earl, don't you proof read your stuff before you sumit it? Also, your math is very fuzzy. You say that having ten times the amout of your mystery carcinogen would only cause one more death, yet, using your own words, you say that, "Studies normally indicate expanding toxicity progression, e.g., doubling the pollutant level would quadruple or more the deleterious effect."...

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  • mike kirchubelJune 16, 2014 - 6:20 am

    It seems apparent, from the previous post, that you know so little about this subject that you can't tell when you are adding quotes that help your pisition or hurt it. Personally i'm glad that the people responsible for these decisions are not very old men, more concerned about pulling a dollar from their money purse, than about the lives of the childen who will suffer from your phobia.

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  • AlfJune 16, 2014 - 10:38 pm

    It is not a single carcinogen. It is a list under the National Toxics Rules and the list of toxics defined as carcinogenic under EPA's Human Health Criterion. I expected to also read this as right wing drivel, but Mr. Heal is essentially correct. And his conclusions are accurate.

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  • FDCJune 16, 2014 - 6:51 am

    Once again Mr. Kirchubel proves that he just can't stand for anyone else to be able to be heard in the Daily Republic. His petulant attack this time also proves something else: his journalistic standards apply only to others. In previous columns and comments he rants and raves about "context" being all important and then in this silly attack, he completely ignores the context. In the case of naming the carcinogen, the EPA doesn't name a specific carcinogen and Mr. Heal follows suit. Further, Mr. Kirchubel's attack on Mr. Heal's "math" is really a stretch, ignoring the "context" and attacking Mr. Heal's recitation of facts. Come on, Mike, we have had a steady ration of your hateful writings for several years; we don't need also to have to endure your petty snipings at other writers.

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  • mike kirchubelJune 16, 2014 - 7:07 am

    Crutchfield, what is the carcinogen Earl is talking about and is his math correct or not? It is you, who cannot stand to hear one, lone voice, speaking the truth, in this treasure trove of right wing drivel. You should be thrilled that so many of the voices here echo your erroneous thoughts.

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  • AlfJune 16, 2014 - 10:43 pm

    As posted earlier, there is no one single carcinogen. There is a list established by the EPA. Sorry Mike, but Mr Heal's article is pretty spot on.

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  • Mike KirchubelJune 17, 2014 - 10:47 am

    Earl never mentions a list of carcinogens as you say. And what about the math? What about the fact that he provides a statement in direct opposition to his claims, seemingly without realizing or having a basic understanding that it actually undermines his point? I certainly wouldn't trust this guy to run MY water treatment plant. Pretty spot off, Alf.

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