Looking for something else, I restumbled on the Constitution Club, where they continue to club the Constitution, its better principles, and especially the great nation that the document creates.
And one of those grotesquely inaccurate posts blaming liberals for everything sprang up — bedbugs, this time. If only those liberals had let the good DDT manufacturers poison the hell out of the entire planet, the blog falsely claims, there would be no concern for bedbugs surging in hotels worldwide today, and especially not in Charlotte, North Carolina, back during the Democratic National Convention.
Looking through the archives, I now recall I dealt with most of this issue on this blog before.
The post’s author made a response I hadn’t seen. God help me these idiots do need a trip to the intellectual woodshed. He said “Congress overreacted on DDT, I think. It likes to do that.”
In reality, Congress did nothing at all, other than pass the law regulating pesticides, if we stick to the real history. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the rule on DDT, which still stands today. Over react? Two federal courts had to twist EPA’s arm to get any action at all, and after delaying for nearly two years, EPA’s rule didn’t ban DDT except for outdoor use on crops, which by that time meant cotton in a handful of states in the U.S. — DDT has never been banned in Africa nor Asia, Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty notwithstanding.
Did Congress ever “react” to DDT?
EPA was tasked by the 1950s’s FIFRA to check out safety of pesticides, and did. FIFRA had recently been amended to give EPA (USDA, before) power to ban a pesticide outright. Two federal courts found DDT eminently worthy of such an outright ban, but refrained from ordering it themselves as they saw the law to require, on the promise of EPA to conduct a thorough scientific review. At some length, and irritation to the Eisenhower appointees to the courts, EPA got around to an administrative law hearing — several months and 9,000 pages. In a panic, the DDT manufacturers proposed a new label for DDT before the hearings got started, calling DDT dangerous to wildlife, and saying it should be used only indoors to control health-threats. Alas, under the law, if DDT were allowed to stay for sale over the counter, anyone could buy it and abuse it. The hearing record clearly provided proof that DDT killed wildlife, and entire ecosystems. But, it was useful to fight diseases, used as the proposed label suggested . . .
Administrator William Ruckelshaus took the cue the DDT manufacturers offered. He issued a rule banning DDT from outdoor use on agricultural crops except in emergencies with a permit from EPA. But he specifically allowed U.S. manufacturers to keep making the stuff for export to fight malaria in distant nations, and to allow DDT makers to keep making money.
“Over-reacted” on DDT? Not Congress, and not EPA. The rule was challenged in court, twice. The appellate courts ruled that the scientific evidence, the mountains of it, fully justified the rule, and let it stand. (Under U.S. law, agencies may not act on whim; if they over-react, they’ve violated the law.)
No study conducted carefully and judiciously, and passed through the gauntlet of peer review, since that time, has questioned the science conclusions of that rule in any significant way — if any study questioned the science at all (there are famous urban legends, but most of them lead back to people who didn’t even bother to do research, let alone do it well and publish it).
But so-called conservatives have faith that if Congress will just repeal the law of gravity, pigs can fly. In the real world, things don’t work that way.
I’ve captured most of the earlier exchanges below the fold; one can never trust so-called conservatives to conserve a record of their gross errors. They’re there for the record, and for your use and edification.