Group Condemns EPA’s Criticism of Harvard Study on Gasoline Emissions and Covid-19 Transmission

May 24, 2020 |

In Washington, D.C., 10 energy and agriculture organizations including Renewable Fuels Association, the National Farmers Union, the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, and others called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to condemn statements by its own Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee that dismissed the findings of a recent study by Harvard University linking air pollution to higher fatalities from the coronavirus.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the group said statements by Tony Cox, Chair of the Advisory Committee have “grossly mischaracterized the science linking fine particulate matter emissions to greater incidence of adverse health conditions, including the pandemic of Covid-19.”Mr. Cox had called the study, conducted by Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, as a “bogus analysis,” as “technically unsound,” and with “sensational policy implications, none of which are trustworthy.”

The letter cites recent reports of increased potential for aerosol transmission of the coronavirus as well as pointing out that EPA scientists have previously acknowledged that hydrocarbons from gasoline combustion could weaponize secondary organic aerosols and act as carriers of a virus.

The group is also concerned with Mr. Cox’s ties to the American Petroleum Institute, including his role in a controversial 2017 study suggesting asthma was more closely associated with income and not gasoline exhaust.

The letter was signed by participants in a recent National Clean Fuels Technology and Health Effects Forum held at the U.N. Foundation in Washington, D.C. The participants discussed EPA’s defective emission models that fail to address fine particulate emissions.

A spokesman for the group said, “The Harvard School of Public Health has done work with EPA for years. It is shocking to see the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee be so dismissive of such a highly respected independent party. The statistics don’t lie.  Areas with chronic pollution problems are experiencing higher Covid-19 deaths. EPA and its advisors should be eager to look at every potential connection to mitigate future risks to the public.”

Groups signing the letter included the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Farmers Union and several of its state chapters, the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, the former Executive Director of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, the Governors’ Biofuel Coalition, and others.

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Category: Policy

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