March 9, 2012

Corruption Kills: After Being Suppressed For Two Decades By Lobbyists, Study Reveals Link Between Diesel Exhaust And Cancer

High-powered businessmen and lawyers conspiring to suppress government reports about how pollutants cause cancer for potentially thousands of workers — it sounds like a throwback to the tobacco wars, or something in the movies. But this type of thing happens every day in Washington, D.C. in ways that are often obscured from the public and the press.

Earlier this month, a major government study was released that shows that diesel exhaust causes lung cancer among miners. According to Nature magazine, the study identifies “sharply higher cancer rates in workers exposed to high levels of diesel exhaust.”

This landmark study had been suppressed for two decades; a ruling from the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals finally allowed its release. Although the study had been in the works since the early nineties, mining interests hired a small army of lobbyists to prevent the study from ever seeing the light of day.

Industry groups used a myriad of strategies to try to snuff out the science on diesel exhausts:

— Mining interests formed the “Mining Awareness Resource Group,” a front that deployed the K Street lobbying firm Patton Boggs to argue in court against the release of the study. The effort tied the study up in courts for years.

— Mining lobbyists recruited Congressmen John Kline (MN) and Tim Walberg (MI) to pressure government agencies to share the results of the study with industry groups and Congress instead of the public. See the lawmakers’ letter to the National Cancer Institute here.

— The Engine Manufacturers Association, a lobbying association, in a brazen attempt to politicize the science, pressured Congress to review the study and authorize its publication before it could be released.

John Morris, a reporter for the Center for Public Integrity, has chronicled the lobbying battle over the diesel exhaust study.

  • lmjor

    As an “uneducated” citizen, I always complained that you could see the diesel exhaust in the air and it stunk to high heaven…surely it was worse. People always disagreed; so now I have redemption.

    • Namaimo

      Fossil fuels have had their day, and then some. Time to move on to renewables, solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, biomass — all clean and affordable. Our next president had better listen to us, the clean fuel voters. Mitt, your Mormon forefathers would approve…

  • CatKinNY

    We’ve been down this road before, many times. Any one else remember when lead was harmless? There was literally a century of indications that it made you stupid, but the lead producers had lobbyists and friends in the oil industry, who also had lobbyists, and the paint industry, who also had lobbyists. They weren’t stopped until the EPA shut them down, and all three industries screamed that it would shut down US industry. Guess what? It all went off without a hitch, though the lead industry has shrunk, since they now make solder, and not much else. As a side effect, the crime rate plunged, since people who grow up non retarded by lead tend to be able to make a living without crime. Asbestos is another good case in point; it definately causes cancer, yet it was ignored for years. On the other hand, there is a real cost to getting rid of asbestos; wonder why your breaks need replacing so much more frequently? No more asbestos in break pads.

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