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Old 04-16-2012, 12:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Ms. Henry blows the whistle on CARB and UCLA (Air)

Yes this is an older article, but none the less evidence of a scandal that went nowhere.

You should read and be outraged.

Quote:
LOIS HENRY: Independent thought not wanted at UCLA
The Bakersfield Californian | Saturday, Aug 14 2010 09:00 PM

Last Updated Saturday, Aug 14 2010 09:18 PM

I know you're going to wonder why you should care about some brainiac getting the boot at UCLA. So let me start by explaining why it matters, then we'll get to the nitty gritty of what happened.

It matters because it looks like UCLA is firing this guy because his work on air pollution doesn't fit with popular thinking and it wants to shut him up.

Popular thinking, that air pollution is killing us, is lucrative to universities by way of government-funded research grants.


The guy who's getting sacked, James Enstrom, was one of only a few scientists willing to stick his neck out and blow the whistle on an outright fraud and coverup at the California Air Resources Board (CARB) over regulations that will squeeze every wallet in this state once they're implemented.

Enstrom has been relentless, if not successful, in his efforts to get the air board to acknowledge that the science on the health effects of air pollution is not closed.

Moreover, he has demanded that the process of science-based regulation be honest, open and fair.

And that's why this really matters.

Out of step

Now, despite his 34 years as a researcher at UCLA, he's being dumped by a secret vote of the faculty in the Environmental Health Sciences Department.

Their official reason for not reappointing him is "your research is not aligned with the academic mission of the Department," according to a July 29 letter sent to Enstrom notifying him that his appeal of an earlier dismissal letter had been denied and his last day would be Aug. 30.

Department Chair Richard Jackson told me the faculty had no problem with scientific disagreement.

"They're not troubled by disagreement, but by poor quality science," he said, adding that "there are two sides to every story."

When I asked what about Enstrom's science had been subpar, Jackson said he would prefer I schedule a "formal interview" with him, which I did for the next day. He later canceled and referred me to Sarah Anderson, dean of communications for the School of Public Health.

Anderson e-mailed and asked what my questions were. I sent them and she replied that UCLA does not discuss personnel issues.

I objected that the faculty's opinion of Enstrom's published scientific work isn't a personnel issue.

I got nothing back.

Several other Environmental Sciences faculty members did not return my calls.

Beate Ritz, a leading air pollution scientist with UCLA who works in the Epidemiology Department, did respond.

She said she hadn't read Enstrom's 2005 study on air pollution.

But, based on his 2003 findings that second-hand cigarette smoke doesn't kill people, she said she knows him "for letting his interpretations go beyond the data and his personal biases to be strong enough to not allow for a balanced and appropriately cautious interpretation of the numbers."

Her attitude wasn't surprising to Enstrom, who said his 2003 paper, published in the British Medical Journal, was widely attacked.

"Not a single error was ever identified in that paper and I refuted all claims made against me and my research," he said. "My work isn't about being politically correct, it's about honest research and being faithful to the science."

Noted toxicologist Robert Phalen, who co-directs the Air Pollution Health Effects Laboratory at the University of California, Irvine, said Enstrom's science is very high quality. He theorized it has been Enstrom's outside activities, such as agitating at the air board, that did him in rather than his science.

"Jim was definitely out of step" with the direction of the leaders of his department, Phalen said.

Jackson himself alluded to that, saying the faculty were also troubled by Enstrom's presentation at a symposium in February put on by CARB to discuss the science examining air pollution's health effects. He didn't say exactly what about the presentation was upsetting.

Tangling with CARB

The Environmental Science mission statement says the department is "committed to furthering research and education at the interface between human health and the environment."

Enstrom has done exactly that with his studies, most notably one published in 2005 that shows no evidence of premature deaths in California due to exposure to PM2.5.

PM2.5 is tiny bits of dust and soot that CARB is trying to regulate to a gnat's hind end.

Specifically, CARB has regulations pending that would render today's trucking and heavy construction fleets inoperable in California.

The rationale for the regulations is that, based on numerous studies, PM2.5 kills thousands of Californians each year.

Enstrom's 2005 study was peer-reviewed and published in well-respected journals and, while some have disagreed with his conclusions, the study and its methodology have held up.

Yet, when a health effects report used to justify the new trucking regulations was written by CARB staffer Hien Tran, Enstrom's study was misquoted and discounted, as were others that don't support the notion that PM2.5 kills.

Tran, it was discovered by Enstrom and others, had lied about having a Ph.D in statistics from UC Davis.

Enstrom's bell clanging over Tran later revealed that CARB chairwoman Mary Nichols knew about Tran's falsification but kept mum to other board members until after they voted to approve the trucking rules.

As an aside, I'm still aghast that both Tran and Nichols have kept their jobs. Really, we can't find two people in the entire state who can do this job honorably?

Making friends

Back to Enstrom. He also single-handedly got scientist John Froines kicked off the Scientific Review Panel, a state organization tasked with identifying toxic contaminants.

And, as luck would have it, Froines is a voting faculty member of UCLA's Environmental Sciences Department.

It was the Scientific Review Panel that in the 1990s declared diesel exhaust is toxic. That declaration triggered CARB to gin up regulations to reduce the amount of diesel PM2.5 in the air, which is what brought on the truck and heavy equipment regulations we're now facing.

Scientists are supposed to apply for and be appointed to the Scientific Review Panel on three-year terms. Froines was appointed in 1984 and continued to sit on that panel for more than 25 years though he was only reappointed a couple of times in the early years.

It's not just an issue of needing new blood. The Scientific Review Panel verifies and approves methodologies for studies that are government-funded.

Froines is also head of the Southern California Particle Center, which conducts such government-funded studies. All of which makes his de facto lifetime appointment seem more than a little conflicty.

When Enstrom brought that to the attention of the Legislature, Froines was kicked off the panel.

I called Froines to see how he felt about that and his views on Enstrom but he didn't call back.

The offense of not going along

Enstrom told me he doesn't believe his colleagues have done bad science, per se, on air pollution.

His main concern has been with how one-sided and self-fulfilling the entire system has become.

CARB exists to regulate air pollution. It funds studies looking for ill effects of air pollution. Any effects found are used to justify more regulations and, hence, more studies.

Finding "no effects" doesn't fit into that cycle.

Then, of course, there's ego.

A scientist's work is considered more important if it points out a hazard rather than saying "everything's fine," Phalen said.

"Jim's work offends people because it diminishes the importance of their work," Phalen said.

Even accidental findings of "no effects" have been ignored.

In one major national study by Daniel Krewski, a map shows PM2.5 had little to no effect of premature deaths in California. And just recently Michael Jerrett revealed preliminary data from his CARB-funded California specific study that also showed little to no evidence of premature death from PM2.5 exposure.

That map has since disappeared from later uses of the Krewski study. And Jerrett has said perhaps mortality calculations should be changed.

"They've decided that no one else can have a say," Enstrom said. "Valid research is being stifled."

Enstrom had been in line to receive funding for a new study from the Health Effects Institute, but that likely won't happen after he loses his UCLA position.

All of this may seem like so much academic inside baseball. But these studies and how they're treated result in regulations that have real-life consequences.

Phalen noted that we are in a period in our culture where science is used to fuel movements rather than to elucidate. Going against the movement puts careers at risk.

Phalen himself is no stranger to swimming against the tide, having published a book in 2002 titled "The Particulate Air Pollution Controversy." He concluded that our hamfisted manner of setting environmental standards has created a regulatory environment that doesn't consider secondary consequences and may result in more harm than good.

Though Phalen couldn't say whether that book cost him his position on Froine's Southern California Particle Center, he wasn't reappointed after it was published.

So much for welcoming diversity of thought.
Opinions expressed in this column are those of Lois Henry, not The Bakersfield Californian. Her column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Comment at people.bakersfield.com/ home/Blog/noholdsbarred, call her at 395-7373 or e-mail lhenry@bakersfield.com
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Old 04-16-2012, 12:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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And Dr Froines has been reappointed as the chairman of CARB

Update on the story today
Dr Froines has been reappointed as the chairman of CARB

Quote:
LOIS HENRY: The ex-radical who heads air board's key panel
By LOIS HENRY, The Bakersfield Californian | Sunday, Apr 15 2012 11:00 AM

Last Updated Monday, Apr 16 2012 09:38 AM

Change may be the only constant in the real world but that doesn't seem to include the Scientific Review Panel.

Don't fret if you've never heard of it. It's one of those obscure governmental "no-see-ums" that do their business in relative anonymity and by the time you figure out you've been stung, you're left swatting at empty air.

It was the Scientific Review Panel that first declared PM2.5 (tiny particulate matter made up of dust and soot) in diesel exhaust a dangerous air contaminant in 1998.

Next thing you know -- ZAP! -- the California Air Resources Board cooked up the truck and bus rules that are costing operators hundreds of thousands of dollars as they're forced to buy expensive filtration equipment or replace their fleets entirely in the next few years.

So, who's running the panel is kind of important.

Which brings us to John Froines, a long time UCLA toxicology professor, now retired.

He is the chairman of the panel and was reappointed a few weeks ago to another three-year term. It will be his 10th term, meaning he's been on this key but very overlooked panel for the past 28 years. He's been the chairman since 1997.

I see a couple problems with this.

First, Froines' near lifetime clamp on this panel blocks out fresh perspectives and diversity of thought.

Second, Froines' own actions and statements over his career show he is an activist driven by political agendas -- not science.

I first wrote about his involvement with this panel last year.

That story chronicled how Froines was briefly booted off the panel following a lawsuit by the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation.

The group sued the state after learning no one had been bothering to at least go through the legally required motions for reappointing Froines and a handful of others to the panel, giving them de facto lifetime positions.

Ultimately, five members of the nine-member panel were replaced in the summer of 2010.

That included Froines -- initially.

Assembly Speaker John Perez had appointed UC Irvine professor Michael Kleinman to replace Froines but later asked him to step down and reappointed Froines to the chair.

I spoke with Kleinman about the turn of events last year, which he characterized as "strange and highly charged."

It's not strange when you learn a little more about Froines.

Froines is an activist. And he makes no bones about the fact that he believes science should be used to improve society.

He didn't return my calls last year and I got the same treatment this year.

But Internet searches paint a pretty good portrait of the man and his agenda.

Froines is a Berkeley and Yale-educated chemist. His biggest claim to fame -- or infamy -- in his early years was being a member of the Chicago 7. For you younger readers, the Chicago 7 was an anti-war group charged with inciting riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention.

Froines and Lee Weiner were the only two defendants acquitted. They had been charged with making "incendiary devices," stink bombs.

One of Froines' co-defendants was Tom Hayden, who later went on to become a powerful and environmentally active California state legislator serving from 1982 to 2000.

Froines' connection to Hayden actually started before the Chicago 7.

After coming to the University of Oregon in 1967 to teach, Froines quickly became the faculty advisor for Students for a Democratic Society, a politically charged group Hayden helped found in the early 1960s, according to a 2003 paper on scientific activism written by University of Oregon student Katie Drueding.

In 1969, Froines took an unpaid leave to deal with the Chicago 7 indictment.

He later implied he'd been told by the university that he would have to remove politics from his work as a scientist and teacher in order to return to the school.

He refused and instead resigned in 1970.

In a lengthy farewell statement, quoted by Drueding, Froines complained that science and society aren't compatible as long as society was "deformed."

So, he apparently went about fixing it.

After the University of Oregon, he left the world of pure research and entered the realm of applied science in public service to "improve lives," Drueding wrote.

Froines became Director of Toxic Substances at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and then Deputy Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

He recently retired from UCLA but remains director of the university-affiliated Southern California Particle Center, dedicated to studying how particulate matter, such as is found in diesel exhaust, harms human health.

His goal of using science to fix society appears to have remained steadfast over time.

In 1999 , a UCLA publication noted that Froines had recently opened his Southern California Particle Center. His hope, according to that article, was that the center's focused science on particulate matter would eventually allow "new environmental standards for air particles, both in terms of public health and far-flung economic consequences."

In a 2007 interview with San Francisco public television station KQED, Froines gave an even clearer explanation of his views on science and society.

"I kept having to figure out whether I was a social activist or I was a scientist. And getting into environmental issues was a way to deal with that schizophrenia. So it was about '74 when I decided that that was the path to take."

All of which tells me Froines believes science is a hammer that should be used to pound society into shape.

That's not my view.

But then I don't agree with much about how science, government and money interact these days.

Such as, I think it should be major no-no for anyone on the Scientific Review Panel to get funding from the very boards the panel advises (i.e. the California Air Resources board) to pay for studies that A) support the panel's views and B) fuel more regulation for the very boards that funded the studies.

That's like a conflict of interest times three. But it goes on every day.

In Froines' case, he's taken millions from the California Air Resources board, to fund the start-up of his particle center and for various studies all geared toward bolstering his theories.

That's just not right.

And it's certainly not in keeping with the original intent of the Scientific Review Panel, that it focus purely on science free of politics.

Froines himself has told the world he's unwilling to divorce the two. So why is he still there?

Opinions expressed in this column are those of Lois Henry, not The Bakersfield Californian. Her column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Comment at http://www.bakersfield.com, call her a
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Old 04-16-2012, 02:59 PM   #3 (permalink)
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dammit Bebe, you know how that stuff makes me puke.
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Old 04-16-2012, 03:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Old 04-17-2012, 11:11 AM   #5 (permalink)
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A local radio program here KFI AM640 has been on this for a while. Mary Nichols(sp) is also a POS
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