Oh… How the OC Register Has Changed
I have been a long-time subscriber to the Orange County Register (OCR). Its original founders (in 1905) were pro-business and staunch libertarians. As is the case, all things change, the second group of long-time owners (70-years), the Hoiles family had internal clan problems along with changes in media (internet) and politics; democratic voting. It all changed the fate of the paper and after some major financial problems it was bought in 2012 along with the parent company, Freedom Communications by the 2100 Trust, a private investor group controlled by Aaron Kushner. The 2100 Trust incidentally also bought the Inland Empire’s Press-Enterprise in 2013.
Politically, Mr. Kushner’s leanings seem to be to the left (he donated $4,600 to Obama in 2007), but compared to the LA Times editorial board, somewhat conservative. Yet I have noticed the green agenda being succumbed to by the paper’s editorial staff.
Within the last year Mr. Kushner rolled out the Long Beach Register to compete with the established Press-Telegram, and the Los Angeles Register to compete with the liberally prominent Los Angeles Times. So far, these investments haven’t worked out very well. Mr. Kushner has already shut down both papers after only five months.
As for the Orange County Register, while it’s still operating, the paper has suffered through some work-day furloughs and potentially some layoffs. Still it’s far better than the LA Times, better known among my circle of friends as the Left Coast Pravda.
I suspect that between, technology, language and demographic challenges and politics, print newspapers only really appeal to us BabyBoomers born (1946-64) and some GenXers (1965-84), forget most of the rest. The fate of print media is pretty much sealed by electrons on the internet.
Say That Again – Our Air is Cleaner, But Poses Higher (Health) Risk
In the October 3rd daily issue of the Orange County Register (OCR), front right page, was the story: “Our Air is Cleaner, But Poses Higher Risk.” The title of course caught me a little off-guard. I thought to myself, how can anything in the environment get cleaner yet be more of a health risk? I surmised, maybe it had something to do with antibodies in the world of a real threat – airborne Ebola!
The staff writer was a young-looking late 20-something Aaron Orlowski. I went to look for the article at OCR on-line a few days later; I was interested in the study paid for by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCQMD), titled: MATES IV Multiple Air Toxics Exposure Study. I wanted to look at the regional air toxics risk maps in the study. I found it kind of odd that the Register changed the articles title within a few days to “Southern California’s Cancer Risk from Air Pollution Drops by Half.” I wondered, why didn’t they print the article saying that to begin with, and by the way it was 65% not 50%. Writers better get a little more math into their liberal curriculum.
I called one of my research friends and asked if he was familiar with the study and he said, “Yes, the SCAQMD MATES IV calculations are based on hypothetical cancer risks that originate from the state SRP Toxic Air Contaiment determinations that are all highly questionably due to the activism of of the panels Chair John Froines.” He added, “Orange Co. is one of the healthiest large counties in the entire U.S. and it has very low pollution levels, low cancer and total death rates.”
As I read through the OCR article, it was all too clear, that is was more typical political (and corrupt) science from the EPA/CARB/AQMD propaganda machines. It also confirmed to me how our once respectable media has instead of questioning the government agency claims and nonsense, embraces it all as peer-reviewed scientific fact. How did they earn a “pass” like that?
Do you know that the claimed cancer risk from clean air in the South Coast basin has decreased by 64% since just 2005, 7 years? And how much was it from 1997 to 2004, and before that? Of course that’s not good enough – as nothing short of clean room level air quality would be. Unfortunately 30% of the particulate matter in our air today comes from the ocean and Far East and no one will ever control that.
Yet, most readers of the story would confusingly wonder, this is good news right – no, wrong! In the 5th paragraph of the article, referring to the AQMD study, claimed that, “Even as air pollution has declined – particularly in the form of diesel particulates – evidence has mounted in the past decade that cancer risk from air pollutants is almost three times greater than previously believed. As a result, officials have crafted new health effects, putting the cancer risk from air pollutants at 2.7 times higher than earlier estimates.” Barry Wallerstein, the head executive officer at SCAQMD added, “We need to duplicate our past success to move towards healthful air and protection of our communities.”
Now…who can’t figure out the “truth” behind this claim and propaganda laced quote by Mr. Wallerstein? Here, I will give it a try: “Geez we have to find more abstract boogeymen, to scare the public. Lets claim it’s all about the children. We need to keep all of our funding schemes and jobs alive!”
Ha…Barry you won the war, time to disband the army and go home!
Below I have included most of the rest of this “painful” and confusing OCR story. I have added my thoughts in italics to each claim, quote, and comment as we go. To read the entire story without my pearls of wisdom, here is the link:
The New Story Title: Southern California’s Cancer Risk from Air Pollution Drops by Half
The level of air pollution in urban Southern California basin is more than half of what it was less than a decade ago, but of course new SCAQMD paid-for research suggests the risk from certain types of air pollution is greater than previously known. That mixed message, issued in a draft of the Multiple Air Toxics Exposure (MATES IV) study released by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), offers this bottom line: It’s less dangerous to breathe our air today than it was in 2005 – when it was very clean compared to the 1970’s.
Inland areas across Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties once blanketed in “harmful” pollutants (1960’s through 1980’s) are now much clearer and cleaner. As a result, the cancer risk has dropped in the region by about 64 percent from just 2005 to 2012, according to the report. That’s for any type of cancer – though lung cancer is the main cancer concern – caused by air pollutants such as benzene, lead, toluene and 34 other elements.
Not surprising, three key “pollutants” were not totally included. The study did not address “all” particulate matter, ozone pollution (or CO2), though it confusingly did add data for diesel particulate matter. There is PM 10, PM 2.5 (the deadly stuff) and ultrafine PM (particles under 2.5 and sometimes referred to as vapor) which the study is suggesting maybe 3 times more dangerous than believed. I would like to know who believes this and if there is conclusive research to support it? The study did note that PM diesel exposure decreased by 70% – but “Dominates the overall cancer risk from the air.”
So why such limited PM or no ozone analysis – aren’t they really the evil stuff? Diesel PM and ozone are actually the main pollutants that have been claimed by the California Scientific Review Panel (SRP) members, arguably the most corrupted scientific panel in the state, to cause premature deaths, not just cancer. These emissions have been circuitously tied to tens of thousands of premature deaths in California (or at least it was at one time) and are still today the criteria pollutants behind regulations of all gas and diesel engines in this state.
Politically, the AMQD’s (all 35 of them – really?) have to be careful not to cross-over into areas they have no authority to regulate, especially mobile sources (vehicles of all types) as that is the responsibility of CARB.
At the lone air monitoring station in Orange County, in West Anaheim risk dropped by about half during the seven-year period studied. There are 7 stations in LA Co. and one each in San Bernardino and Rubidoux. To measure pollution, officials collected data every six days from June 2012 to July 2013 from 10 monitoring stations across the region. To help measure cancer risk, that data was combined with known locations of high pollution to map areas of particular concern. In general, the port areas of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and “mostly poor or economically disadvantaged” areas of central Los Angeles, southern L.A. County cities and eastern Inland Empire areas pose the highest cancer risk, according to the maps. It would be interesting to overlay income and air quality maps over each other! We all know that wealthy people can afford to eat better and buy health insurance and the poor are challenged even with ObamaCare access.
Orange County, according to the maps has far less risk, in fact very little other than the area where the 5, 22, 57, 55, 91 freeways all merge and east to the port plume. In the last decade, risk plummeted in most of the region from more than 1,000 extra cancer cases per million to below 400. Central and South Orange Co. didn’t face any air pollution issues during the period studied.
Only transportation corridors (with very clean cars, trucks and even Tesla’s) along 5 and the 91 freeways in Orange Co. remain areas with higher than expected rates of cancer – again look at incomes in these areas. By comparison, much of urban Los Angeles Co. and portions of the Inland Empire have higher cancer risk, though the risk for cancer declined considerably during the seven years.
The lower cancer risk seems to be a result of improved pollution control mechanisms on cars, trucks, trains and ships (all things the AQMD has no regulatory authority over). At the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, for instance, cargo ships must switch to cleaner-burning fuel within 40 miles of shore and some run on electric shore power.
The greatest pollution reduction from 2005 to 2012 came from diesel particulate reductions (2.5 particulate matter which the study did not address), yet it states that there was a 70 percent drop in PM. Who’s not confused now? The AQMD staff claims that today, 90 percent of the risk comes from mobile sources which they cannot regulate like cars, trucks, trains, off-road equipment and ships. Most of the high emission manufacturing and processing businesses, stationary sources that the AQMDs do regulate have either controlled their emissions or left the state, the latter being the most common way to deal with all the regulations. Again, all cars, trucks and construction equipment engines are mobile and therefore regulated by CARB. California has the most stringent vehicle emissions regulations of all states and even the U.S. EPA.
The economic slowdown of 2008 likely caused some of the drop in pollution, but that was not the sole cause, AQMD officials said. Even as the economy has revved up, pollution levels are still going down, said Jean Ospital, health effects officer for SCAQMD. And why? Because CARB already regulates vehicle emissions that are in effect today both for gas and diesel powered vehicles and are very successful.
Preliminary research on ultrafine particulates or vapors (by researchers like John Froines, suggests that they may or could (how definitive it that) be more toxic than larger particles on a pound-for-pound basis, according to Ospital. New research also suggests (again no proof at all) that ultrafine particulates can leave the lungs and enter the bloodstream and other organs, causing additional damage.
Though Southern California air remains among the most polluted in the country (America has the cleanest air in the world for a country of its size. population and industrial base) as tested, officials said comparing the region’s cancer risk to other cities and regions isn’t feasible, because so few have any air problems today. Few other regions have done such in-depth studies of pollution and cancer rates, and other studies have looked at different criteria. “It’s hard to make a comparison from that perspective,” Wallerstein said. Adding that, “Certainly, the levels that are still occurring in Southern California are still too high and need to be reduced.” What he is saying is: Certainly we will always be needed, the air will never be clean enough, we will always find something!
The SCAQMD will release an interactive map online (to scare everyone), and present the study to whoever will listen. The report will go through 90 days of public review, with final (peer-review) approval scheduled for spring.
It’s interesting, we over-laid the AQMD map with CARBs PM non-attainment areas of the region. We remain confused as to how any coastal area of the state with the exceptions of the ports has any air quality problems, the SCAQM maps confirm this.
Just Too Hard to Believe Anymore
Critics question the manipulation and cherry-picking of the scientific data and we all know that 30 and 40 years ago the environment was mismanaged, but it’s not surprising that agencies like EPA, CARB and some of the AQMD’s constantly release very confusing and suggestively “scary” reports, because no matter how clean the air (and water) gets, these agencies and all those that depend on “green or environmental” largess, continue to find unacceptable health risks mostly based on junk science like CARB’s PM regulations or CASAC’s ozone research.
The EPA and state regulators’ powers and budgets, as well as those of most environmentalists, depend on a continued public perception that there is a serious problem to solve. Yet regulators like EPA. CARB and AQMD are also major funders of the health research intended to demonstrate the need for more regulation. They also provide millions of dollars a year to environmental groups, which use the money to augment public fear of pollution and seek increases in regulators’ powers. These conflicts of interest largely explain the ubiquitous exaggeration of air pollution levels and risks, even as air quality has steadily improved.
One has to wonder why the SCAQMD/Mr. Wallerstein with no legal authority to regulate 90% of the claimed sources of toxics in the South Coast basin, is even involved with these types of vehicle emission heavy studies. Clearly, Mr. Wallerstein is attempting to expand SCAQMD’s authority into areas already aggressively regulated by CARB. Is this a turf war or a fight for survival?
The study and Wallerstein’s actions if anything should be used as evidence to eliminate this agency as they have done a good job and now the war against local stationary pollution is over! Time to cut the government waste and Barry’s $400,000 salary!
I’m Not Alone Here
Just about a year ago, a well-respected local economist, John Husing penned two interesting editorials that were run in the Press Enterprise, the first titled: Quit killing jobs in bid for more pristine air and the other, a month later titled: California’s poor kept in poverty by job-killing elite.
In both, he exposes SCAQMD and its leadership for the job killing machine it has become. In both editorials, he persuasively describes how the SCAQMD with its misdirected agenda is stifling business within its own district. Husing claims, “In Southern California, international trade has become a major source of upwardly mobile job growth, yet the SCAQMD has repeatedly sent its staff members to testify against the building of facilities needed for the sector’s expansion.
Public health has been the rallying cry of those who have created this job-killing regulatory climate. However, their mantra is fundamentally flawed.”
Couldn’t have said it any better.