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The movie, “A Bug’s Life,” is a great commentary on today’s
government. The opening scene shows the bugs marching one by one
carrying the food up a hill to be placed in a pile as payoff to the
grasshoppers’ protection racket. Each bug maintains his pace ignoring
anything in its path to deposit his addition. Any individual action or
thought is not tolerated and is punished. Bureaucracy operates under the
principles of safety in numbers and conformance. Thus policies once set
into place stay in place without question.

A few weeks ago an advisory panel set up by the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) admitted that the gasoline additive MTBE, methyl
tertiary butyl ether, which many believe is a carcinogen, has
contaminated drinking water in the areas where it is in use. What is
incomprehensible is that it has been known by EPA that MTBE is extremely
soluble in water and thus moves rapidly through soil. The EPA has on its
website a January 1998 fact sheet on MTBE
that says, “Pure MTBE can reach an
equilibrium concentration in water of approximately 5 percent.” Finally
EPA put together a blue ribbon committee of experts to validate the
necessity to change policy. The panel agreed with what many non-EPA
supported scientists have been saying for years — the addition of MTBE
to gasoline is a true health hazard.

Unfortunately, there are many states that followed the government’s
lead and reformulated their gasoline by adding MTBE and other chemicals
such as ethanol and ETBE (ethyl tertiary butyl ether) in order to meet
EPA emission standards. According to the New York Times
“reformulated gasoline is now required in all or part of California,
Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts,
Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.”

In most of these states it will be up to next year’s legislature to
pass laws that rescind the requirement to add MTBE to gasoline during
the winter months. The New York Times noted that “New Jersey recently
won permission from the E.P.A. to stop using extra M.T.B.E. in gasoline
in winter, because it has solved its winter carbon monoxide problem.”
Although Los Angeles was one of the cities required to oxygenate its
gasoline, the entire state of California decided to require additives to
its gasoline. Now California has also changed its policy.

In 1997 the California legislature passed a bill that gave the state
government two years to determine whether MTBE is hazardous to humans.
Californians, especially those living around the Santa Monica and San
Francisco bays, were already aware that gasoline additives such as MTBE
were hazardous to their health. In addition wells had been closed due to
gasoline tank leakage in such diverse places as South Lake Tahoe,
Sacramento, and Santa Clara to name a few. In late March, Governor Gray
Davis concluded his MTBE investigation and began the process of phasing
out the carcinogen that has invaded the drinking water of many
Californians.

Yet not everyone is happy about EPA’s abrupt change in policy. Two
divergent groups are still in favor of using MTBE in gasoline. The trade
group for MTBE producers, the Oxygenated Fuels Association, says the
answer is to stop leaks and spills from gasoline tanks, while the
American Lung Association of New York State, “sees the health threats
as unproved while the health benefits of cleaner air are clear
cut.”

The self-interest of the trade group is expected; what isn’t expected
is the arrogance of the New York State American Lung Association. But
their arrogance is surpassed by that of EPA. According to Dan Fiedor,
who hosts Heads Up,
in 1995 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered
EPA to stop mandating the use of ethanol in reformulated gasoline. Yet
the Clinton EPA still went ahead and ordered the use of reformulated
gasoline in many areas of the country.

Although most major media carried the EPA story on the hazards of
MTBE, it did not get the kind of coverage that another Clinton-Gore junk
science proposal received from Time magazine. The August 9 issue of Time
has a cover story entitled “The Heat Wave: New Concerns on Global
Warming.” Time’s Dick Thompson cleverly invokes this summer’s heat wave
to promote the cause of more environmental legislation on global
warming. Although he states that “While a single heat wave doesn’t make
a worldwide meltdown (see following story), a great many scientists
believe that by continuing to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,
humans are forcing drastic climate changes.” He quotes Gore as saying,
“There is overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is
contributing to global warming.” Yet, nowhere in the Time article are
any of those “many scientists” quoted.

Sallie Baliunas, a real scientist, wrote a commentary in the Aug. 5
Wall Street Journal critical of Time’s article. Ms. Baliunis is not only
an astrophysicist but also the senior scientist at the George C.
Marshall Institute and deputy director of the Mount Wilson Observatory.
Her commentary contains historical data and scientific evidence to
debunk the Time article and Al Gore’s “overwhelming scientific
consensus.” The main point of her article is that those who worry about
manmade carbon dioxide have forgotten the most important natural factor:
the changing sun.

She even relates how a federal government bureaucrat dismissed as
“noisy junk science” a 1990 report by the George C. Marshall Institute
that included “evidence on the sun and climate change.” She concludes
with “Introducing the sun’s impact in the models has shown that human
effects on temperature are much smaller than first projected, and
perhaps insignificant compared with natural temperature changes. Those
who worried about global warming can cool down.”

It’s hardly likely that either Clinton or Gore will cool down their
efforts to saddle the American people with science that is unscientific,
untested and unhealthy. The George C. Marshall Institute told us 10
years ago that sun caused climate changes. The EPA has known all along
that MTBE is extremely soluble in water and flows through soil very
easily. And Americans instinctively knew more than 5 years ago that
gasoline with additives was unhealthy: it smelled bad.

The real noisy junk science is coming from politicians, who, like the
grasshoppers in “A Bugs Life,” are running a protection racket. They
frighten the American people with a small or non-existent problem and
then produce the government-approved solution. Once that solution is
enacted, the bureaucrats like the ants keep pushing the solution — long
after it has been proven wrong!

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