This week, EPA bashing took front and center on the performance stage that passes as Congress these days. There is a school of thought that thinks EPA should be eviscerated because EPA is carrying out the mandate an earlier Congress gave it, to clean up the air. Especially, the recent assailants claim, EPA should not try to reduce carbon emissions, because clean air might cost something.
Wholly apart from the merits, or great lack of merits to those arguments, the anti-EPA crowd is just ugly.
78-year-old William Ruckelshaus, the Hero of the Saturday Night Massacre, a distinguished lawyer and businessman, and the founding Director of EPA who was called back to clean it up after the Reagan administration scandals, granted an interview on EPA bashing to Remapping Debate, an ambitious, independent blog
from the Columbia School of Journalism designed to provide information essential to policy debates that too-often gets overlooked or buried. [Remapping Debate sent a note that they are not affiliated with CSJ; my apologies for the error.]
Ruckelshaus, as always, gave gentlemanly answers to questions about playing politics with science, and bashing good, honest and diligent government workers as a method of political discourse.
Steven Milloy, one of the great carbuncles on the face of climate debate or any science issue, assaulted Ruckelshaus at Milloy’s angry, bitter blog, Green Hell. Milloy calls Ruckelshaus “a mass-murderer,” a clear invitation for someone to attack the man. Milloy wrote, cravenly:
He’s the 20th century’s only mass murderer to survive and thrive (as a venture capitalist) in the 21st century.
Milloy owes Ruckelshaus an apology and a complete retraction. I rather hope Ruckelshaus sues — while Milloy will claim the standards under New York Times vs. Sullivan as a defense, because Ruckelshaus is a public figure, I think the only question a jury would have to deal with is how much malice aforethought Milloy exhibits. Malice is obvious. Heck, there might not even be a question for a jury — Milloy loses on the law (nothing he claims against Ruckelshaus is accurate or true in any way).
This is much more damning than what got two NPR officials to lose their jobs.
Who will stand up for justice here? Rep. Upton? Rep. Boehner? Anthony Watts?
I tried to offer a correction, and since then have written Milloy demanding an apology and retraction — neither comment has surfaced yet on Milloy’s blog. Here’s the truth Milloy hasn’t printed:
No, Sweeney did not rule that DDT is not a threat to the environment. He said quite the opposite. Sweeney wrote, in his ruling:
20. DDT can have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish and estuarine organisms when directly applied to the water.
21. DDT is used as a rodenticide. [DDT was used to kill bats in homes and office buildings; this was so effective that, coupled with accidental dosing of bats from their eating insects carrying DDT, it actually threatened to wipe out some species of bat in the southwest U.S.]
22. DDT can have an adverse effect on beneficial animals.
23. DDT is concentrated in organisms and can be transferred through food chains.
On that basis, two federal courts ruled that DDT must be taken off the market completely. Sweeney agreed with the findings of the courts precisely, but he determined that the law did not give him the power to order DDT off the market since the newly-proposed labels of the DDT manufacturers restricted use to emergency health-related tasks. With the benefit of rereading the two federal courts’ decisions, Ruckelshaus noted that the courts said the power was already in the old law, and definitely in the new law. [See, for example, EDF v. Ruckelshaus, 439 F. 2d 584 (1971)]
DDT was banned from use on crops in the U.S. as an ecosystem killer. It still is an ecosystem killer, and it still deserves to be banned.
Ruckelshaus’s order never traveled outside the U.S. DDT has never been banned in most nations of the world, and even though DDT has earned a place on the list of Dirty Dozen most dangerous pollutants, even under the Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty of 2001, DDT is available for use to any country who wishes to use it.
Please get your facts straight.
Would you, Dear Reader, help spread the word on Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, or any other service you have, that the Brown Lobby has gone too far in it’s error-based propaganda against clean air and those who urge a better environment? Please?
[…] accurate, it’s a sort of “origins” story — I don’t think it explains Milloy’s current advocacy of DDT and almost all other things anti-environmentally-wise. Nor does it explain Milloy’s […]
I like your idea. Ed would do a great job, too. He is nothing, if not thorough and rigorous in his research.
You ask why Milloy’s inaccuracy and rhetoric do not discredit him in the public view? It’s because the public has been conditioned to accept stupidity as an actual virtue.
Listen to conservative talk show hosts and politicians. Read what today’s conservative commentators have to say. Using the intellect is something for “eggheaded, liberal, elites”. It’s effeminate (if you’re male) and butch (if you’re female). It lacks the muscular, yet alluring, sex appeal of today’s titans — Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham for the ladies; Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity for the fellers.
There was a time when conservatives had at least a core of rational intellectuals stating their case. Remember Bill Safire? William F. Buckley? Even old George Will fits. Where are they now? Safire and Buckley are pushing up daisies. Will is being excoriated for being too cozy with the Marxists because he said something nice about President Obama once.
There is no intellectual conservatism any longer. There was a time a liberal like me could actually ENJOY arguing with a conservative. Once in awhile, guess what? They could even win me over on a particular issue. It’s because they made credible arguments, without invective or hate-speech and usually without naked appeals to racism, jingoism or homophobia. Sure, they might have crossed the line a few times…and so did some of our tribe. But for the most part, no one did.
And being well-read and intelligent was seen by both sides as a virtue. Today, only the left considers intellect virtuous. The right…religious and otherwise…spits on academia and erudition.
That’s why Milloy has traction. Dumbs tend to like other dumbs.
Fox isn’t about to fire a guy who is carrying out Roger Ailes’s political agenda.
Fox is a political organization, a tentacle of the conservative movement and Republican Party. Fox does not respond to normal stimuli, like appeals to fairness.
But you are right, that if enough people note the obvious, there should be some effect. After Ben Franklin, we can hope that as he observed, truth wins in a fair fight.
The fight isn’t fair. Bloggers can help even the odds, should help even the odds, and I hope some will.
It seems to me that, on its own, the combination of over-the-top rhetoric and inaccuracy in Milloy’s ‘journalism’ should serve to discredit and disarm him. But it isn’t happening. Why not?
If people interested in this stuff (Bathtub, BugGirl, Deltoid) would get together and write a perfectly sourced book (perhaps a DDT version of Merchants of Doubt) — would that make a difference? Well, let me know and I’ll pre-order two copies.