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Posts Tagged ‘science-based decision making’

Ozone in Houston: Combatting Misinformation and Protecting Public Health

As I’ve been following, the Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of updating the national ambient air quality standard for ozone pollution. The standard is likely to be strengthened below the current standard of 75 ppb, due to the compelling scientific evidence linking ozone to adverse health impacts at this concentration. The EPA has proposed a standard between 65 and 70 ppb, narrowing the range advised by its independent science committee of 60-70 ppb, and the agency will issue a final rule by October. Read More

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Fracking in Colorado: Did the Oil and Gas Taskforce Finish Its Tasks?

When Colorado officials announced that they would set up a blue-ribbon taskforce charged with making informed recommendations on oil and gas development in the state, there were high hopes. In fact, I commended the state for establishing a strong procedure and promising mechanism for informed decision-making for fracking in Colorado. What an opportunity, I thought, for a science-informed decision in an otherwise science-lacking debate. Now that the commission has issued recommendations, it’s worth revisiting what happened. Did the taskforce succeed? Let’s walk through its moves. Read More

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Five Reasons the Ozone Standard Should Be Strengthened

I’ve talked here, here, and here about the EPA National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) update to the ozone standard.  Today is the last day of the EPA’s public comment period (to which I have submitted a comment). So I thought it would be a good time to do a quick review of the top five reasons the ozone standard should be strengthened in order to provide an adequate margin of safety for the most vulnerable populations—including the elderly, children, and those with lung diseases. Read More

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Baltimore against the Measles: A Victory for Science, but for How Long?

When I was an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University, I had only a dim awareness of the measles outbreak then raging through Baltimore. I was fully vaccinated, spent most of my time on campus, and lived in university housing among mostly white, middle and upper-middle class students, who were also fully vaccinated. Measles, for me, was a remote thing, despite its proximity. It didn’t happen to anyone I knew. Read More

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A Science-Based Ozone Standard At Last? The Obama Administration Releases Long-Awaited Draft Rules

The regulation of ozone pollution has had a complicated history in recent years, but today marks a potential turning point toward an ozone standard that protects public health. Read More

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The Colorado Oil and Gas Task Force: Still a Chance for Science to Inform Fracking Policy

When news broke last month that the state of Colorado would be creating a blue-ribbon task force to study the impacts and inform regulation of hydraulic fracturing in the state, I wrote about the opportunity for science. In a state that has been ground zero in the fracking debate in many ways, this is a chance, I wrote, for Colorado to take a step back and consider how science can better inform oil and gas development there. Unfortunately, yesterday’s announcement of the task force membership shows this has yet to be the case. Read More

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The Endangered Species Act under Attack: Science, Politics, and the Real Meaning of Transparency

The cartoon below has never been more appropriate. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is attacked by political interests with some regularity, but the current proposal from the House Natural Resources Committee threatens to halt much of the science-based work that the law has enabled. Read More

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EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee Comes to Agreement on Ozone Standard Recommendation

Today the EPA’s chartered Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) agreed on a recommendation to Administrator McCarthy regarding an update to the ambient air pollution standard for ozone (To get up to speed on the ozone standard update process, see my previous post on the topic). The deliberation of the committee and the Ozone Review Panel exemplified the challenges of translating science to policy and it was clear that the scientific experts on the panel had differing opinions on how this should be done. Read More

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Of Manatees and Mandates: Celebrating Endangered Species Day

As a little girl, I really liked marine mammals, especially seals and manatees. They fascinated me. I learned all about them and their habitats. I knew the anatomical differences between a seal and a sea lion and I could describe the eating and migration patterns of manatees. I knew which species were endangered and which human activities threatened them. As an adult, I have almost certainly lost much of this detailed knowledge I had as a nine-year old. Nevertheless, I remain fascinated by them and continue to be concerned about their survival. Read More

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The EPA, Human Studies, and Getting the Science Right

A few months ago, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology took interest in a small piece of the tremendous amount of research—and funding of research—that EPA does on air pollution and its health effects. What were the lawmakers concerned about? Read More

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