Creating a New Environmental Crisis | Citizens Against Government Waste
The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Creating a New Environmental Crisis

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


It has been said that one should never let a serious crisis go to waste.  It could just as easily be said, “if there is no crisis, make one up to try to compel action and raise money.”

A perfect example of the latter is the campaign undertaken by The Guardian, a left-leaning daily British publication.  The newspaper apparently thinks it can gain attention by “attacking” the United States on environmental issues, beginning with its May 22, 2019 edition.  They announced, “Why The Guardian is launching a major reader-funded project on the toxicity of modern life,” stating “from pesticides in our produce to toxic dyes in cosmetics, Toxic America is an ambitious new series to investigate the health risks from exposure to chemicals in our everyday lives.”  The newspaper hopes to raise $150,000 to fund a series of reports so it can educate the American people on their supposedly awful and toxic lives, as “gaps in the US regulatory system mean untested chemicals legally enter food, cosmetics and other consumer products in the US, and make their way into our soil and water.”  According to a June 18, 2019 screen shot, the paper has raised $118,529.

The articles themselves are written in a toxic style, intended to frighten readers enough to make them want to stay in their home, avoid most foods, evade any plastic containers, shun cosmetics and scents, never again wash their hair or take a bath, and keep away from pizza at all costs.  They are more like science fiction than non-fiction.  

The first article queries, “The American public is routinely exposed to toxic chemicals that have long been banned in countries such as the UK, Germany and France.  If they’re deemed harmful in those countries, why not in the US?”  In the true exaggerated, confrontational, and dishonest style of the left, the paper blames the chemical  industry for all the supposed problems.  This is not the first time such scare tactics have been tried.

For many years, environmental activists were focused on the so-called dangers of bisphenol A (BPA) as a “hormone disruptor” and raised lots of money to scare the public about its use.  BPA is a chemical used to make polycarbonate, a hard, clear plastic utilized in many consumer products and in epoxy resins that are used as a protective lining in food and beverage cans.  Interestingly, BPA was only mentioned a few times in the “Toxic America” articles.

That may be because the Consortium Linking Academic and Regulatory Insights on BPA Toxicity (CLARITY-BPA), a seven-year study undertaken by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the National Toxicology Program, is well on its way to proving what the FDA has said for a long time:  BPA is safe to use.   In 2015, the European Food Safety Authority review of BPA exposure and toxicity concluded that BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group at current exposure levels.

After wasting their donors’ money on that costly and losing battle, environmentalist extremists are moving onto new things to scare the public about, such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).  These man-made chemicals have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1950s.  They are found in water-repellent clothing, non-stick cookware, some fire-fighting foam, stain resistant carpets and fabrics, and products that resist oil, grease, and water.  The new frenzy surrounding these chemicals was discussed in a March 2019 Waste Watcher article, which called for well-researched science to address any alleged safety concerns.

Perhaps The Guardian’s hope is that it can gin up enough angst among the public to go after President Trump administration’s deregulation efforts, based in large part on his January 30, 2017 Executive Order that mandated federal agencies eliminate two regulations before a new one is written and to prevent an increase in the total cost of the regulations.  As a result, unnecessary and duplicative regulations were slashed and the 2017 Federal Register had the lowest word count since 1993.

Of particular note is the Trump administration’s April 2018 proposed rule to strengthen transparency at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The rule ensures that the regulatory science, which is fundamental to any actions the EPA takes, must be made publicly available to allow independent validation.  It is no surprise that environmental advocacy organizations pushed back hard, claiming that the rule would “effectively block the EPA from relying on long-standing, landmark studies on the harmful effects of air pollution and pesticide exposure.”  The EPA received more than 590,000 comments on the proposed rule and is currently reviewing them, with the final rule expected in December 2019.  If scientists cannot be transparent about the research they undertake, especially if it is funded by taxpayers, and the study cannot be replicated, it should not be used to write a regulation.

Contrary to what The Guardian or others may want, promoting hysterical and inaccurate theories and creating a false crisis is no substitute for science-based public policy that can be validated, especially when it comes to the environment.

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