air quality

Pima County spins its politically correct environmental programs

A press release from Pima County claims “Since last year’s survey, the number of Pima County residents who reported driving alone to work, school, shopping and for leisure trips dropped significantly, which resulted in more than 8 million miles not driven daily.” But that 8 million miles (every day) figure is statistically conflated from a very small sample. It also is dependent on the veracity of the respondents.

PDEQ Director Ursula Nelson said, “When you translate those miles not driven daily into air pollution savings, it amounts to about 264,000 pounds of air pollution kept from the air we all breathe.”

“In May and June, FMR Associates Inc. conducted an internet and telephone survey of 500 random Pima County households to analyze and track the overall effectiveness of the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality’s (PDEQ) Clean Air Program and reported actions taken to improve to air quality.” According to the FMR report (full study here):

“The Telephone interviews were distributed on the basis of geographic population density in the market, with specific steps taken to ensure a proportionate number of interviews in each survey region.” “Telephone respondents included in this survey were selected through a random  sampling procedure that allows equal probability of selection.”

“Online surveys were conducted via the Internet utilizing a questionnaire administered by FMR Associates and hosted on the website (with completed surveys downloaded directly to FMR for data processing and analysis). Respondents were contacted through a third party database Internet panel company that emailed invitations to their “opt in” panelists who reside in Pima County.”

Many of the survey questions were statements and the survey asked people whether or not they agreed with the statement. Here is a sample: “You are aware that the majority of our air pollution comes from motor vehicle use.” Statements such as this one give the survey characteristics of a push poll. (“The questions are skewed to one side of an issue or candidate, the goal being to sway large numbers of voters under the guise of survey research.”)

In spite of the 8-million-mile claim, there does not seem to be a great change in driving habits from 2004 to 2015 (see FMR Table 26c).

Table 26c


A total sample size of 500 responders out of a County population of about one million represents a very small sample size (about 0.05%). The answers given by those 500 are statistically conflated to arrive at the 8 million miles saved daily. FMR claims the sample size produces “statistically significant” results. I think both FMR and the County are fooling themselves and trying to fool us.

(See my post: Statistical Significance in Science – how to game the system )

The FMR study did not present any evidence that decreased miles driven had any effect on air quality. I could not find such evidence from Pima County either.
From Pima County’s  2013 Air Quality Summary Report (Produced in July 2014, there is so far no report for 2014):

Carbon monoxide concentrations have declined in the past three decades. This has been attributed mostly to the use of cleaner burning oxygenated fuels, catalytic converters, fuel efficient computer controlled vehicles, locally adopted Clean Air and Travel Reduction Programs and various local traffic control measures.

Pima County’s ground level ozone concentrations have remained relatively steady at 95% of the

The other criteria pollutants measured by PDEQ are nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. No significant changes in the levels of these two pollutants have been seen in the past 20 years.

PM10 is particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of 10 microns or less and PM2.5 is particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 microns or less. Particulate matter is a health concern because when inhaled, the particles are able to pass through the body’s protective filtration system and enter the lungs.

Particulate matter concentrations are often higher near unpaved roads, during localized activities such as construction, during extended dry periods, and when strong winds are present.

Although vehicle exhaust, particularly diesel engines, emit particulate matter, the main culprit seems to be wind.

PC fig6


Pima County’s Department of Environmental Quality (PDEQ) has many important statutory duties but it also has many politically correct programs that don’t seem particularly effective. Perhaps that is why they need to tout stories like the subject of this post.

P.S. As a public service I note that PDEQ does not want you to use “stinky charcoal lighter fluid” on your barbie.

EPA experiments on humans debunk their ozone and particulate matter health claims

The rogue EPA is proposing to lower the ground-level ozone standards from the current 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 60 ppb. This comes on the heels of a report that in 2007, the EPA conducted experiments on the effect of ozone on human subjects and found no adverse effects even at 400 ppb.

In a previous article (Impact of new EPA ozone rule) I documented the potential economic impact of this rule, it would:

Reduce U.S. GDP by $270 billion per year and $3.4 trillion from 2017 to 2040;

Result in 2.9 million fewer job equivalents per year on average through 2040;

Cost the average U.S. household $1,570 per year in the form of lost consumption.

The EPA claims that the lower standard would reduce deaths from asthma. Few people know, however, that back in 2007, the EPA conducted human experiments on the effect of ozone.

They recruited 6,000 elderly individuals with a history of asthma and exposed them to 400 ppb of ozone for two hours while the people performed mild exercise. The EPA reports that “not a single adverse event.. [was] observed.” (Source)

The EPA has been conducting experiments on humans for years. Back in 2011, then EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson testified before Congress: “Particulate matter causes premature death. It doesn’t make you sick. It is directly causal to you dying sooner than you should.”

As reported by Steve Milloy in the Washington Times, the EPA has been “exposing unwary and genetically susceptible senior citizens to air pollutants the agency says can cause a variety of serious cardiac and respiratory problems, including sudden death.”


During that time at those university laboratories, EPA-employed or -funded researchers have intentionally exposed a variety of people to concentrated levels of different air pollutants, including particulate matter (soot and dust), diesel exhaust, ozone and chlorine gas — the latter substance more recognized as a World War I-era chemical weapon than as an outdoor air pollutant.

Over the same period that the experiments in question have been conducted, the EPA has become more and more alarmist in communications to Congress and the public about danger the air pollutants pose to individuals even at commonplace, non-concentrated levels. The EPA has determined, for example, that any exposure to fine particulate matter can cause death within hours or days of inhalation. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, moreover, has testified in Congress that particulate matter causes about 1 of every 4 deaths in America.

Not only is diesel exhaust largely made up of “deadly” particulate matter, but its components include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which the EPA considers to be cancer-causing. The agency generally says that any exposure to a carcinogen increases the risk of cancer. Diesel exhaust also includes lead. The EPA has determined that lead can be readily absorbed from inhalation into the blood and that there is no safe level of lead in blood.

The university laboratories referred to in the quote above include the Chapel Hill campus of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Rutgers University, the University of Michigan, University of Rochester, University of Southern California and University of Washington.

The EPA has conducted at least four separate experiments where people were subjected to 10 to 20 times the particulate matter concentration the EPA says is safe. (See details on Wryheat).

Investor’s Business Daily reports that the tests were also done on children. Here is how the tests were conducted according to IBD:

“EPA parked a truck’s exhaust pipe directly beneath an intake pipe on the side of a building. The exhaust was sucked into the pipe, mixed with some additional air and then piped directly into the lungs of the human subjects. EPA actually has pictures of this gas chamber, a clear plastic pipe stuck into the mouth of a subject, his lips sealing it to his face, diesel fumes inhaled straight into his lungs.”

Remember, these tests by the EPA were conducted while the EPA claimed “that any exposure to fine particulate matter can cause death within hours or days of inhalation.”

There is now a website devoted to exposing this EPA testing: See the “guided tour” on the left sidebar of the site. That website likens the EPA testing to NAZI experimentation of prisoners during World War II.

See also:

The EPA is destroying America

EPA versus Arizona on regional haze issue

A previous post: EPA war on coal threatens Tucson water supply, examined the consequences of EPA regional haze regulations at the Navajo Generating Station, near Page, Arizona, on our water supply. That station supplies all the electricity needed to pump water from the Colorado River to Tucson via the Central Arizona Project (CAP). It now seems that the EPA is after other coal-fired plants in Arizona.

As a result of the previous post, I received an email from William Yeatman, Assistant Director, Center for Energy and Environment, at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Mr. Yeatman is an expert on the issue of haze and power plant emissions. (See two of his publications on the matter here and here.)

Mr. Yeatman wrote me:

“Regional Haze is an aesthetic regulation pursuant to the Clean Air Act. Its purpose is to improve visibility at federal National Parks and Wilderness Areas. It is the only aesthetic regulation in the Clean Air Act. This point bears repeating: Unlike every other regulation established by the Clean Air Act, Regional Haze has nothing to do with public health.

Another hallmark of the Regional Haze regulation is State primacy. Whereas EPA is the lead decision-maker when it comes to setting public health standards pursuant to the Clean Air Act, the Congress intended for the States to render determinations on Regional Haze.

After countless hours of deliberation by State officials and significant public participation, Arizona submitted a Regional Haze implementation plan to the EPA in February 2011. Despite the Congress’s intention that States take the lead on Regional Haze decision-making, EPA Region 9 in mid-July disapproved Arizona’s submission, and proposed a federal implementation plan in its stead.”

Specifically, in addition to harassing the Navajo Generating Station near Page, Arizona, the EPA found fault with Arizona’s proposed regulations for control of nitrogen oxides (NOx) for the Apache Generating Station near Cochise, Arizona; for Cholla Power Plant near Joseph City, Arizona, and for the Coronado Generating Station near St. Johns, Arizona.

Yeatman writes:

“For all three power plants, Arizona chose NOx controls known as ‘Low Nitrogen Burners.’ EPA, however, wants to impose NOx controls known as ‘Selective Catalytic Reduction.’ The difference in price is significant—EPA’s plan is almost $48 million per year more expensive than the State’s plan [emphasis added]. Of course, these costs would be passed along to Arizona ratepayers in the form of higher utility bills.”

Yeatman modeled the expected results comparing the Arizona proposal versus the EPA proposal. The effect on regional haze is shown in the graphic below. Can you see any difference?


The extra $48 million per year that the EPA requirements would impose does not seem to provide any additional benefit, only addition pain to Arizona ratepayers.

Mr. Yeatman concludes: “Despite the Congress’s intent that the State’s have primacy on Regional Haze, the EPA already has imposed four Regional Haze federal implementation plans on New Mexico, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Nebraska. EPA’s preferred plans cost almost $400 million more than the States’ plans. Not one of EPA’s imposed Regional Haze plans resulted in a perceptible improvement in visibility.”

It seems that the EPA is a rogue agency that imposes regulations just because they can. Few of their regulations in this matter have any scientific basis and the EPA seems to ignore economics.

See also:

EPA war on coal threatens Tucson water supply

EPA fuel standards costly and ineffective

EPA, ethanol, and catch 22

EPA may change Dioxane standards in Tucson water

EPA Admits CO2 Regulation Ineffective

Electricity supply endangered by EPA regulations

Clean Coal: Boon or Boondoggle?