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Opinion: Columnists

Convicted felon designed EPA's playbook for faking science

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Opinion,Ron Arnold,Columnists,EPA

Everything the public believes about President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency is wrong - the only thing that powerful agency protects is its royal kingdom, ruling over the American economy with the highest-cost rules in the nation's entire bureaucracy.

And the promised huge benefits of EPA's rule-making were wildly overstated in rule after rule using a tactic invented by John Beale, a corrupt high EPA official - now a convicted and imprisoned felon for pretending to be a CIA agent while doing no work and living lavishly on the EPA executive payroll - with the complicity, urging and praise of agency elites including EPA boss Gina McCarthy.

America, we’ve been swindled.

The day after my July 1 column rebuking the EPA’s empire-building, I received a number of EPA and congressional documents and letters that indicated I hadn’t dug deep enough.

They came from Washington attorney Christopher Horner, iconic watchdog famous for using the Freedom of Information Act to expose EPA's skullduggery - including former administrator Lisa Jackson's false email identity, “Richard Windsor.”

Horner is now the go-to guy “for EPA employee informal whistleblowers who provide public records the agency prefers not see the light of day," as he told me.

The key letter, date-stamped March 4, 2013, shows Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, warning then-assistant EPA administrator Gina McCarthy that they had investigated and knew about the horrifying quandary that now faces all of America: EPA's glittering promise that its clean air rules will generate $2 trillion in benefits through 2020 and its pledge that benefits will exceed costs by a ratio of 30-to-1 are flat lies.

We’re not going to get those benefits and we’re paying dearly to be cheated – time after time. EPA has used its overstatement trick more than 30 times to betray the public trust with expensive and onerous new regulations.

How do I know that? One of the Horner documents was "EPA's Playbook Unveiled: A Story of Fraud, Deceit, and Secret Science." It's a 67-page staff report of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee's Republican members that traced the exponential growth of the agency's power over the American economy - EPA using bald-faced lies.

EPA convict John Beale became the master of deception because his best friend Robert Brenner, the Clinton administration's head of EPA's Office of Policy, Analysis, and Review, hired him - during the tenure of Carol Browner, Al Gore's former Senate staffer, as EPA administrator - with a high salary and no qualifications beyond unscrupulous scheming.

Beale proved his dishonesty when a nasty fight developed in 1997 over EPA’s “policy call” to regulate tiny particulate matter (PM2.5). Beale wrote a memo that recommended overstating the benefits, backing the benefits claim with any science that suggested a link between PM2.5 and death, and shielding the science from scrutiny in case it was questioned.

Combine that with Brenner's - and Browner's - ability to stiff-arm Congress and ignore the Office of Management and Budget, White House technology experts and EPA's own science advisers, and you have the EPA's playbook.

The PM2.5 science that EPA found consists of only two data sets, the American Cancer Society (1972) and “Harvard Six Cities” (1974) studies, which were two decades out of date, much challenged and never released — even the EPA never saw the raw data — and were never independently verified. This pathetic excuse for sound science could easily be manipulated to turn promises of vast benefits from regulating PM2.5 into credible lies — which the EPA did.

That was bad enough, but, as the Senate report documented, every time EPA dreamed up any new air regulation, “co-benefits” of PM2.5 control were added to the new rule’s zero benefits to make it look like big benefits. Co-benefit theory was one of Beale’s most pernicious and power-drenched inventions.

What’s wrong with this picture? If the 1997 PM2.5 rule did what it promised, there should be no more PM2.5 – but EPA kept adding it to every new rule as a “co-benefit.”

That sounded so preposterous that I contacted a reliable congressional source to make sure I got that straight. I laid out a comparison: “EPA begins with a bucket of dust (particulate matter), and promulgates a rule that’s supposed to empty the bucket. No more dust. Then another rule comes along with a bigger bucket of dust that the new rule won’t empty, but adding on the old rule’s 'co-benefit' will. Over time, this happens with 33 buckets of dust that magically vanish and reappear as bigger buckets of dust.”

The source verified my comparison and added that bigger benefit claims came with each new co-benefit bucket, all justified by the same two antique, invisible Cancer Society and Harvard studies that may be more science fiction than science.

That’s appalling. It’s like some warped, nightmarish Disney Irish Fantasia: the leprechaun pot of gold at rainbow’s end meets the sorcerer’s apprentice.

We’ve been fed illusions of benefits that don’t exist by EPA’s ruthless regime for many years now. Beale is idolized as a hero at the agency. To this day EPA defends the trickery and scientific deception pushed by federal inmate number 33005-016 at Cumberland Federal Correctional Institution. That’s true heart rot in our government.

The quandary: What do we do about it? Storming the EPA Bastille at Washington's Federal Triangle with torches and pitchforks is not an option. But it is only right and proper that honest, hard-working Americans never again trust or respect the EPA or its minions or its supporters.

RON ARNOLD, a Washington Examiner columnist, is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.
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