|Round, Round Get Around, I Get Around|
|Written by Administrator|
|Monday, 21 November 2011 15:00|
Again staying with the 60’s music theme for my articles, to be exact, a 1964 Beach Boys hit with the same name seemed to fit my schedule over the last month. From the Capitol steps in Sacramento to our recent Annual Board Meeting in San Diego, I have certainly seen a good deal of the state.
On October 8th, I was invited to speak on the Capitol steps at the invitation of the Coalition of Energy Users. Other speakers included Assemblyman Dan Logue, John Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Warren Duffy from CFACTSoCAL and our own CDTOA member CoreyWardlaw. Corey happened to also bring his beautiful (and clean burning) 1993 Peterbilt truck portion of his transfer and displayed a big banner on the side which read, “Governor Brown: Repeal The Truck & Bus Rule.”
The theme of this rally was to encourage Sacramento to “cut the governmental red tape and over regulation” and let us get back to work. In anticipation of this rally, permits were taken out, porta-potties brought in and there were plenty of trash receptacles available, not that anyone had to worry about this crowd, they were clean, courteous and well-behaved.
Less than two blocks away was the “Occupy Sacramento” crowd who were camped out at Cesar Chavez Park, ironically directly across the street from the EPA Building. Sure enough, the occupy folks decided to take a walk through Sacramento, shouting all the way. I am not sure what cause they were chanting about, but the noise level was quite high and we could hear them coming.
Thanks to Warren Duffy, he was able to intervene and ask them to tone it down somewhat so that our speakers could be heard. I saw one leader of this group on the local news the night before say he was participating in this occupy movement because he wanted more environmental regulations, which of course angered me. I thought to myself, thank goodness they kept marching and chanting their socialist more government oriented dissatisfaction and didn’t stop to listen too deeply to our message about the need for less government.
I later found out on the internet that the group was part of the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd. Their website said that they are a “leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions.” And one thing they all had in common was that they “Are the 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.” Their site also said that, “We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.” OK….!
With my honorary PhD in tow from the “School of Hard Knocks” conferred onto me by Professor Enstrom, I was asked to attend CARB’s Research Screening Committee (RSC) meeting on October 28, where an elite group of researchers and real PhD’s would evaluate UC Berkley professor and researcher Michael Jerrett’s and others final PM2.5 report that “would” show a link between particulate matter and premature death in California. Without the acceptance of the report by the RSC, regardless of its many technical and procedural flaws, the payment of the $750,000 would have not occurred.
We needed seven people to speak that morning, each person would have three minutes to refute parts or all of Prof. Jerrett’s report called, “Spatiotemporal Analysis of Air Pollution and Mortality in California Based on the American Cancer Society Cohort: Final Report (as revised)”. You see the first time the report was released (almost three years late) there were so many questions about it, the RSC which normally receives no public oversight or criticism of any of its approved grants was shocked by it all and asked that the authors address the many “peer reviewed” questions. So this was really the second go around for this report.
On a good day this would have been a difficult assignment, but having completed some dental work several days before, I was still having problems pronouncing certain words. However, when duty calls it is time to go, so I practiced my presentation numerous times with my trusty stove timer to make sure I could complete it within the allotted time. I also made several trips to the dictionary for definitions of some words I do not usually use, one being circuitous.
Sure enough, when my time came up after getting through most of my three minutes, I was unable to properly pronounce “circuitous.” That was humbling.
So, we all presented our criticism of the report, seven of us, three minutes each. CDTOA was well represented as usual. Hank, Allan and I, even Daniel Robertson, we all have CDTOA connections. I want to give special thanks to Sacramento member Allan Farris who always helps out when called, he was our seventh presenter. I want to also recognize Eric Eisenhammer from the Coalition of Energy Users who also did a great job. Make sure you all go to his website.
Despite the fact that Jerrett’s revised report showed no evidence of increased PM2.5 related premature mortality in California, the RSC voted unanimously to accept it and pay the $750,000 bill. And while there was much criticism about the report, Linda Smith chief of CARB’s health impacts section, pointed out that there is a possibility that the dreaded PM could have a link to increased cardiovascular disease and blood coagulation.
I suggest we also look for a PM2.5 link to jock itch, ingrown hairs and hemorrhoids, medical conditions that plague many in our profession. Perhaps I should also ask for a $750,000 public grant from this very generous (and corrupt) group to study this, in a very circuitous way of course.
I believe the best review of the junk science behind Jerrett’s study was done by William M. Briggs, Adjunct Professor of Statistical Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, who said, “This is a study which claims to have found a statistical not actual relationship between dust (PM2.5) and premature death for (at least part-time) California residents. I reviewed this paper and found several significant flaws in the use and interpretation of statistical methods. The most significant: I found that the summary in the abstract and therefore the only part of the report liable to be read by most to be the result of either poor work or deliberate bias toward a predefined conclusion.”
He added, “The authors prepared and intensely investigated a series of complex statistical models. There were nine models in total, each having particular strengths and weaknesses. Each had several subjective ‘knobs’ and ‘dials’ to twist. Only one model of the nine (p. 108) showed a ‘statistically significant’ relationship between mortality and PM2.5, and that only barely; and in that model, only one sub-model showed ‘significance.’ The other eight models showed no relationship. Some models even hinted that PM2.5 reduced the probability of early mortality. With such a large number of tests and ‘tweaks’, the authors were practically guaranteed to find at least one ‘significant’ result, even in the absence of any effect. Nowhere did the authors control for the multiplicity of testing, even though such controls are routine in statistical analysis of these sort.”
He concluded by saying, “The criticisms (of the Report) were not wrong, especially the ‘cherry-picking’ claims. The statistical mistake (choosing only the significant model which showed ‘significance’ and ignoring the ones that did not, and for not correcting for multiple tests) made by Jerrett is enormous, and if addressed would have caused the claim of ‘statistical significance’ to disappear. It is thus more likely that what Jerrett claims is false.
Yes, unsurprisingly, the report is just another piece of junk science, but this time people where looking and the conclusion is obvious – the report is a fraud!
A week after this meeting I was off to three wonderful and informative days in San Diego at our 70th Annual Board Meeting.
Reading his bio and district information (1st Congressional. District, from Del Norte Co. south to Sacramento) I noticed he described himself as a “Conservative Democrat.” Where the “conservative” part comes from I still don’t have a clue, I’m guessing for someone from coastal Northern California having a little business empathy allows politicians up here to believe they are conservative. It was funny to me, that the first thing he said at this meeting was that the Federal Deficit should be raised. Apparently $15-trillion is not enough; in August U.S. debt surpassed 100 percent of gross domestic product. The debt was $10.6-trillion on the day Mr. Obama took office. By comparison Greece’s toxic national debt is $490-billion and Italy’s is $2.6-trillion dollars.
I was invited to the meeting to discuss CARB issues and the great harm this agency is doing to California and its businesses. As the contractors expressed their wants and wishes, I was shocked to hear each of them express a desire to see fuel taxes increased. This of course is due to the fact that our transportation funds always seem to go for purposes other than transportation and our once great highway system. I have supported fuel tax increases in the past believing it would bring more work to our construction industry and trucking, only to learn these funds were mysteriously diverted or borrowed against for totally unrelated purposes.
In fact, a recent editorial I read in the OC Register stated that tax money in the transportation fund could also be easily diverted towards the $100-billion dollar bullet train to no where.
On the drive home that day, I continued to mull over the position the contractors took on the fuel tax increase, knowing how so many in our industry are struggling and then it came to me. Off-road equipment is exempt from fuel taxes, approximately 45 cents per gallon. So here is my proposal to any contractor who wishes to raise fuel taxes. I think you should lead by example and along with any fuel tax increase proposed; it would only be fair that the off-road fuel tax exemption be removed or better yet make off-road equipment burn on-road “clean” diesel. After all, we all need to pay our fair share – right
By the way, let’s also make sure that our highway transportation funds aren’t used to build any more bicycle trails or lanes. And if this is your goal, add an extra tax to bicycle licenses too.
So yes it was a full month so far, and we have much ahead of us as the CARB on-road rule was finally published on November 11. Apparently, the rule will be reviewed by another state agency to make sure its all legal and then it will be ready for what Sean Edgar refers to as “prime-time” – us!