Real USC Scandal: TAX $$ Produces Junk Science Studies

While this is a story about USDC, it could be a story about almost any college or university that takes grant and study money from government.  Many of the grants are just political payoffs—to get academia to support Leftist policies or candidates.  The government money is an investment in making sure the campuses of America promote pro-government support and making government bigger an more intrusive.

“Dr. Enstrom says this matters because all Southern California taxpayers may be forced to comply with new unjustified South Coast AQMD regulations that will be paid for with a one-half-cent sales tax being promoted by SCAQMD, under Senate Bill 732 by Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica).

“If a new regressive sales tax is approved, it will hurt every Southern California taxpayer, particularly the struggling blue collar workers who surround the two USC campuses,” said Enstrom. “These issues are directly relevant to academic freedom and scientific integrity at both USC and UCLA and to the Southern California economy.” According to Enstrom, it appears the South Coast AQMD has real power over USC and the research grants the school receives. Specifically, Dr. Jo Kay Ghosh, the South Coast AQMD Health Effects Officer, won’t look at Enstrom’s evidence either because it would put an end to the scheme they are running — including the bill to tax the air in Southern California.

(Disclosure:  I am a friend of Dr. Emstrom)     While the campus elites and government make money from these phony studies, it is the families and businesses that are harmed by studies that do not meet reality.  Is this the role of government?

A Totally Different USC Scandal

UCLA epidemiologist calls out USC med school professors on big money research used to establish EPA regulations

By Katy Grimes, California Globe,  4/16/19 

University of Southern California has been grabbing headlines lately over the “Varsity Blues” college admissions scam, billed as the biggest ever college entrance scandal, including several high-profile Hollywood parents. Additionally, the former USC medical school dean was linked to drugs and prostitutes, and was forced to resign in 2018. His successor was ousted less than a year after being appointed following revelations of a sexual harassment settlement from 15 years earlier,” Fox News reported, and USC gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall, 71, was accused of sexual abuse by more than 50 women over the course of more than two decades, with the school taking no action until 2016, despite the women having complained about the physician’s behavior for years. This led USC President C.L. Max Nikias, to resign in 2018.

Now California Globe can report that a number of USC professors in the Department of Preventive Medicine have received at least $268 million in air pollution research funding from the Environmental Protection Agency and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, according to Dr. James Enstrom, who believes that this massive amount of research funding has influenced their research findings and their continuing support for the South Coast Air Quality Management District regulations.

Enstrom says his belief is reinforced by USC Preventive Medicine Professors Duncan C. Thomas and Kiros T. Berhane who have failed to respond to Enstrom’s January 2019 and June 2018 emails, which summarize the latest epidemiologic evidence that PM2.5 does not cause premature deaths and that there is no justification for new SCAQMD regulations.

PM2.5 refers to atmospheric particulate matter (PM) that have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, which is about 3 percent the diameter of a human hair and can only be detected with an electron microscope.

So Cal to be hit with air tax

Dr. Enstrom says this matters because all Southern California taxpayers may be forced to comply with new unjustified South Coast AQMD regulations that will be paid for with a one-half-cent sales tax being promoted by SCAQMD, under Senate Bill 732 by Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica).

“If a new regressive sales tax is approved, it will hurt every Southern California taxpayer, particularly the struggling blue collar workers who surround the two USC campuses,” said Enstrom. “These issues are directly relevant to academic freedom and scientific integrity at both USC and UCLA and to the Southern California economy.” According to Enstrom, it appears the South Coast AQMD has real power over USC and the research grants the school receives. Specifically, Dr. Jo Kay Ghosh, the South Coast AQMD Health Effects Officer, won’t look at Enstrom’s evidence either because it would put an end to the scheme they are running — including the bill to tax the air in Southern California.

SB 732 would authorize the south coast air district board “to impose a transactions and use tax within the boundaries of the south coast district, with the moneys generated from the transactions and use tax to be used to supplement existing revenues being used for south coast district purposes.” Passage of the bill would allow SCAQMD to use the money however it sees fit. The first legislative committee hearing for SB 732 will be April 24.

The Orange County Register editorial board referred to SB 732 as “a proposed law to invent a new tax district so yet another government agency can put tax hikes on the ballot.”

USC professors played role in unjustified regulations

“The multibillion-dollar PM2.5 regulations imposed upon Californians by EPA, CARB, SCAQMD, and SJVAPCD are scientifically and economically unjustified,” Enstrom said. “USC professors have played a major role in the research and interpretation of evidence that has led to these unjustified regulations.” Enstrom added, “the unwillingness by the doctors to address unethical PM2.5 science and regulations is consistent with the recent lack of ethics at the USC School of Medicine.”

All of this casts doubt upon the reliability of air pollution epidemiology which has been used to establish EPA regulations, as well as air quality regulations in California by the California Air Resources board and SCAQMD. CARB in particular, has been behind some of the most devastating and dubious diesel regulations, which led to the closure of many trucking businesses, and related trucking industries.

“The regulations under which EPA and CARB are prosecuting truckers are based on dubious science. But when the cause is green virtue, such details don’t matter,” reported an Oct. 18, 2015 Wall Street Journal editorial.

Overdriveonline.com reported: “While claims from scientists around the world have been made about fine diesel particulates’ health effects for years, CARB’s development of the Truck and Bus Rule, which requires all electronically-calibrated diesel engine technology prior to the 2007 emissions-spec model year to be retrofitted with diesel particulate filters or retired, in the view of the WSJ editorial board simply didn’t justify itself with science in the development:

Notably, the epidemiological study that CARB used to justify its truck rule in 2008 had to be corrected after it was revealed that the report’s lead staff scientist had purchased his statistics doctorate for $1,000 from a diploma mill. CARB later revised its estimates of premature deaths prevented by the rule down to 3,500 from 9,400. … “

CARB based its diesel regulations on what turned out to be a mail order Ph.D. by CARB employee Hien T. Tran, who was found to have lied about having a Ph.D. in statistics from University of California, Davis. But even with full knowledge of Tran’s phony credentials, in December 2008, CARB still allowed Tran to write the health report that determined that CARB would forge ahead with drastic diesel regulations in the state.

Making matters even worse, UCLA fired Dr. Enstrom because he exposed Tran, and because his work on air pollution didn’t mesh with approved thinking, despite his prior 34 years as a researcher at UCLA. Enstrom sued the university and won his job back. And he’s determined to continue to expose that “there is NO robust relationship between PM2.5 and total mortality,” in the air pollution epidemiology that has been used to establish EPA regulations, and California’s toughest-in-the-nation air quality rules.

Enstrom also notes that the World Health Organization world map of ambient PM2.5 clearly shows that PM2.5 regulations are required in China, India, and Africa, not in the San Joaquin Valley.

As Enstrom explained back in 2012, “There is now overwhelming epidemiologic evidence that particulate matter (PM), both fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and coarse particulate matter (PM10), is not related to total mortality in California.” Enstrom examined all the long-term PM epidemiologic cohort studies in California, and the ways the findings from these studies have be used and/or ignored. He shared the limitations of these studies: lack of access to key databases; the ecological fallacy; failure to consider other pollutants; failure to satisfy causality criteria; and failure to consider other competing health risks. And he shared the ethical issues underlying much of PM2.5 epidemiology, clearly concluding that PM2.5 is not killing Californians and that there is not a scientific or public health basis for the many of the existing and proposed regulations designed to reduce PM levels in California.

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. Really??? says

    It has been an unfortunate trend in environmental issues and science for decades. It is not just USC or this tax.

    One of the primary professors backing the bicycle coalition presented intentionally false and misleading data regarding bike use as part of alternative transportation. It was presented at the Am. College of Sports Medicine international conference. When I left the session in disgust and went to the convention floor to register a strong complaint detailing how the presentation was false I has hammered. It turned out that ACSM researchers are getting significant dollars to investigate these type of issues. (particulates, “active” transportation, accidents).

    To expose what was part of a whole section of presentations as false or misleading, was not what they wanted. So there you go. Buy your Ph.D. and then generate grants to survive. The old saying of publish or parish is alive and well and it is politically influenced.

    USC started down this road 40 years ago and wiped out departments or researchers who would not fall in line.

  2. Ned Leiba says

    I am on the Citizens’s Advisory Committee of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (the PCD). I am concern about health issues and I was shocked at the lack of current, cogent health studies that focused on actual trends in mortality and morbidity in our valley that might be associated with air pollution. The PCD offers statistics showing dramatic reductions in PM2.5, O3 NOX and SOX, and so I expected to see health studies that showed a dramatic decrease in mortality and morbidity associated with air pollution. No studies have been done, despite the expenditure of $60 million for scientific studies out of Valley PCD funds. That scientific agency was “prohibited” from conducting health studies, which is absurd. Furthermore, AB 617 targets disadvanatged communities for enhanced programs to improve air quality. When I asked the CARB director of the program if there would be health studies to show the improvement from the enhanced programs, she said there were no plans to monitor the health effects. Professor Enstrom has made several submissions to the Committeee and Board of the PCD strongly asserting there is no demonstrated mortality from ambient PM2.5 in the Valley and elsewhere. That contention of Professor Enstrom and others should be addressed, and could be addressed, if there were proper health studies.

  3. I obtained e death certificate data for all of California for the years 2000-2012. Over 2M death certificates. Several papers are published. A technical report is freely available at arXiv.org > stat > arXiv:1502.03062. This work is widely known. No one is dying in California due to current air quality. There is much evidence that supports Dr. Enstrom.

    Those that claim problems do not cite or address negative studies and do not make their data sets available.

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