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SDFU signs letter calling out EPA for failure to protect Americans

Staff Writer
LA Junta Tribune

Contributed by South Dakota Farmers Union

HURON, S.D. – South Dakota Farmers Union joined a broad group of ten energy and agriculture organizations in calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to condemn statements by its own Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) that dismissed the findings of a recent study by Harvard University linking air pollution to higher fatalities from the COVID-19.

SDFU’s president, Doug Sombke, also urged EPA Administrator Wheeler to immediately remove CASAC’s Chairman, Tony Cox, for blatant conflict of interest violations.

“Cox is without doubt the oil industry’s fox in the chicken coop,” Sombke said. “He should not be allowed to influence EPA policy at this crucial juncture while U.S. public health officials grapple with this unprecedented public health threat.”

The groups charged that recent statements by Administrator Wheeler and Cox grossly mischaracterized the science linking fine particulate matter—a significant source of which is gasoline combustion byproducts—to greater incidence of adverse health conditions, including COVID-19. In particular, Mr. Cox disparaged a recent study by the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health linking air pollution to higher COVID-19 death rates as a “bogus analysis” which is “technically unsound” with “sensational policy implications, none of which are trustworthy.”

Sombke noted that “Harvard University health experts are renowned worldwide for their expertise. Harvard scientists have collaborated with EPA on air quality studies for many years, including a 2013 study which concluded that gasoline aromatic hydrocarbons are primary sources of urban secondary organic aerosols and fine particulate matter.”

“It is shocking to see the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee be so dismissive of such highly respected independent experts,” said Sombke. “The numbers speak for themselves: areas with chronic pollution problems are experiencing higher COVID-19 death rates. EPA and its advisors should be investigating every way possible to reduce public exposure to the deadly virus.”

The majority of the letter’s signatories participated in the recent National Clean Fuels Technology & Health Effects Leadership Forum at UN Foundation headquarters in Washington, DC where there was considerable discussion about mounting evidence that EPA’s own experts admitted its models are defective and fail to predict the enormous quantities of extremely dangerous toxics that come from gasoline.

“EPA has left a long trail of broken promises that subject all Americans to greater risk from aerosol-borne toxics caused by gasoline benzene-based octane additives,” said Sombke. “For many years now, EPA has used oil industry ‘experts’ like Mr. Cox to defy Congressional mandates in the Clean Air Act that would improve air quality by eliminating gasoline carcinogens. EPA’s compliance would be a gamechanger for public health, the environment, and our economy. New science suggests it could even provide important and ongoing protection for all Americans against transmission of the COVID-19 virus.”

The letter goes on to highlight recently reported potential for aerosol transmission of the virus. The new science, which is now being investigated by EPA’s Science Advisory Board, has extremely important implications for EPA’s mobile source transportation emissions regulatory policy.

The letter includes signatories from the Renewable Fuels Association, National Farmers Union, Clean Fuels Development Coalition, Governor’s Biofuels Coalition and more.

Read the letter and learn more about how to improve air quality by cleaning up gasoline at safegasolinecampaign.org.