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Katy Grimes

The Firing Of Dr. James Enstrom: The Dangers of Bucking Fashionable Science

Part l of a series:

Bucking the highly fashionable notion that California’s air pollution is deadly, Dr. James Enstrom was one of only a few scientists willing to blow the whistle on the fraudulent science perpetrated at the California Air Resources Board.

It is often said the cover up is worse than the crime. Dr. Enstrom is living proof.

An attempt to muzzle scientific debate and academic freedom on a University of California college campus is at the root of the wrongful termination lawsuit of Dr. James Enstrom.

Enstrom challenged the scientific research that the California Air Resources Board and California Legislature used to enact policies regulating diesel fuel emissions. And then he was fired from his job of 35 years at University of California, Los Angeles.

Dr. James Enstrom

Enstrom exposed the cover-up of “junk environmental science.” He also outed a phony scientist at the California Air Resources Board, and the Legislature’s subsequent adoption of regulations stemming from the fake science.

Consequently, the university gave Enstrom his walking papers rather than admit they were wrong, and risk losing the gravy train of ongoing public grants and funding.

Enstron did not fall in line

Enstrom received his Ph.D. in Physics from Stanford University, and later earned his M.P.H. in epidemiology from UCLA.

Most recently, he vehemently objected to the CARB’s aggressive state regulations, developed by complicit scientists at universities, funded by lucrative government research grants.

Enstrom published peer-reviewed research in 2003 showing that second-hand cigarette smoke doesn’t kill people.

Then he published another politically incorrect, peer-reviewed study in 2005, which showed that fine particulate matter does not kill California residents—the basis of California’s restrictions on diesel engines because of their contributions to particulate air pollution health effects.

In his 2005 study of American Cancer Society data, Enstrom found no scientific evidence to support CARB’s assertion that very fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns causes a variety of disease outcomes, including cancer and asthma.

The California Air Resources Board ignored his findings, despite his study, which specifically showed no evidence of premature deaths in California due to exposure to PM2.5.

Enstrom also proved that University of California science professors exaggerated the health effects of diesel particulate in California, knowing the results would be used by the CARB to regulate diesel-engine vehicles.

Enstrom outed the lead “scientist” employed by CARB, Hien Tran, who falsely claimed to have a Ph.D. from UC Davis. Tran had purchased the Ph.D. for $1,000 from a diploma mill. CARB still employs Tran as a scientist, despite his degree hoax.

Enstrom said UCLA retaliated, and told him his research “is not aligned with the department’s mission” at UCLA, as justification for his dismissal after 35 years.

Tran’s research was used by CARB and the Legislature to impose drastic, heavy-handed regulations on owners of diesel engine vehicles.

Enstrom has factually and boldly promoted his studies because he says most of the government policies about air quality regulations come from poor or incorrect science. It has survived intense challenge of its facts from many eminent experts in the field who have been unable to find errors in Enstrom’s methods or findings.

Enstrom said he is not alone in questioning “junk environmental science,” nor is the CARB alone in ignoring studies like his.

Exposing a colleague

Enstrom was also responsible for getting UCLA activist and scientist, John Froines, booted from the CARB Scientific Review Panel, which is responsible for identifying toxic contaminants.

The panel is comprised of nine scientists nominated by the University of California president, who are then formally appointed by the governor, the Senate Rules Committee, the Assembly Speaker, and the California Secretary of Environmental Protection.

Enstrom discovered Froines had been on the panel without reappointment for 25 years, which exceeded the legislatively- mandated three-year term limits.

Money and politics are powerful motives

The Pacific Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit several years ago on behalf of construction and trucking groups (Brown v. Adams) challenging the nomination and appointment practice for the CARB Scientific Review Panel. “In a nutshell, the appointing authorities had been letting many panelists stay over on expired terms,” the PLF explained.

Enstrom said the PLF lawsuit resulted in very necessary overhaul of the panel members, which included the removal of Dr. Froines.

By being allowed to remain on the panel, Froines prevented other qualified scientists from serving. “He never should have held this position this long,” Enstrom said.  “This should have been a rotating panel. He locked out every other toxicologist in California.”

And under Froines’ watch on the toxics panel, Enstrom said many substances were declared “toxic” in California.

The Scientific Review Panel declared diesel exhaust toxic in the 1990’s. This allowed the CARB to rev up regulations.

However, Enstrom said Froines’ removal from the panel created such a ruckus in the environmental community that Assembly Speaker John Perez ordered then-UC President Mark Yudof put Froines back on the Panel, and had him reappointed as Chairman.

However, Enstrom said Froines resigned last year following the methyl iodide controversy. Froines’ alleged friendliness with anti-pesticide groups, while under contract to chair an independent panel to investigate the fumigant methyl iodide, apparently has him in hot water.

Enstrom said Froines was also the head of the Southern California Particulate Center, which conducts studies on the effects of particulate pollution, at taxpayer expense, including many grants from CARB and Cal-EPA.

Enstrom’s research could have put an end to Froines‘ government-funded research.

Life is messy

However, fate can be messy. Froines was a voting faculty member of UCLA’s Environmental Sciences Department – the department from which Enstrom was terminated.

Part ll: Enstrom’s lawsuit against UCLA, which will go forward in Federal District Court. UCLA tried twice to get  the case dismissed and lost both times.

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