Another Sleazy Green TV Ad (this time, it’s from fake doctors)

by William Yeatman on August 3, 2011

in Blog, Features

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Environmentalist special interests run the sleaziest attack ads in the business, as has been noted before on this blog, and also by my colleague Marlo Lewis. It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican (like Sen. Scott Brown) or a Democrat (like Sen. Mary Landrieu)—if you don’t toe the green line, then environmentalist advocacy groups will go for your jugular. Almost always, these enviro organizations try to pin an allegation of child abuse on those with whom they disagree. Classy!

Case in point: The American Lung Association’s tasteless new television ad campaign, which I’ve posted at the end of this blog. Here’s how the ALA described the spot in a press release:

The ad…features a red baby carriage with sounds of a child suffering respiratory distress that are heard while the red carriage is seen in front of iconic D.C. landmarks including the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol. The voiceover of the ad states the following: “Congress can’t ignore the facts. More pollution means more childhood asthma attacks. Log on to and tell Washington: Don’t weaken the Clean Air Act.”

There are several problems with this campaign. For starters, the American Lung Association suffers from a huge conflict of interest. The point of the ad is to protect the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate under the Clean Air Act. Left unmentioned by the narrator is the fact that the EPA is a major funder of the ALA, having delivered more than $20 million over the last ten years. As my colleague Myron Ebell noted, “So the EPA pays the American Lung Association, which in turn lobbies against a bill that would rein in EPA.” Many Americans labor under the misapprehension that the ALA is staffed by disinterested MDs in white coats; in fact, it employs partisan shills.

According to the advertisement, “More pollution means more childhood asthma attacks.” This claim is simplistic to the point of being disingenuous. For thirty years, asthma rates in the U.S. have been increasing, while pollution has been on the decline. From 1980 to 2009, ambient American air concentrations of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and ozone decreased 78 percent, 48 percent, and 30 percent (respectively). Yet the prevalence of asthma increased 75% from 1980-1994, and asthma rates in children under the age of five have increased more than 160% from 1980-1994. Moreover, the number of people with asthma continues to grow. One in 12 people (about 25 million, or 8% of the population) had asthma in 2009, compared with 1 in 14 (about 20 million, or 7%) in 2001. (All of the asthma data was lifted from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.) The truth of the matter is that asthma is poorly understood. The ailment appears to have a number of triggers. Clearly, “pollution” isn’t the driving variable. Otherwise, asthma rates would have declined in lockstep with decreasing ambient air concentrations of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and ozone.

If viewers go to, the website plugged in the American Lung Association television ad, they can sign an online petition demanding that their representatives “defend and protect the Clean Air Act.” It might surprise you to learn that I agree with this–I wholeheartedly believe that the Congress needs “to defend and protect the Clean Air Act”…from the EPA, whose politically driven war on domestic energy production is making a mockery of the law as it was written by lawmakers. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the EPA’s global warming power grab. In order to placate the President’s environmentalist base, the EPA has seized the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, despite the fact that the Agency lacked a Congressional mandate. In the words of Rep. John Dingell, an author of the Clean Air Act, “This [using the Clean Air Act for climate change mitigation] is not what was intended by the Congress.” He further warned that the EPA’s decision to regulate greenhouse gases invited a “glorious mess,” one that is already underway.

That’s not the only affront to the Clean Air Act being perpetrated by the EPA. In the late 1970s, the Congress amended the Clean Air Act to protect visibility in National Parks. At the time, the Congress took care to ensure that policies to improve vistas were formulated by the States, and not the federal government. Now, however, the EPA is using this “Regional Haze” provision of the Clean Air Act to run roughshod over States, in blatant disregard of Congressional intent. Over the objections of elected officials in New Mexico and Oklahoma, the EPA is trying to impose billions of dollars of controls that would deliver imperceptible improvements in visibility.

Alas, there’s more. East of the Mississippi, the EPA is poised to implement a Clean Air Act regulation known as the “Utility MACT,” one of the most expensive regulations ever, whose justification is to protect America’s supposed population of pregnant, subsistence fisherwomen. Recently, the EPA issued a major new air quality regulation (the Cross State Pollution Rule) that seems to settle a political score with Texas. The Congress did not write the Clean Air Act so that the EPA could punish its detractors.

These are difficult times. The economy stinks, and the EPA is making things worse by creatively interpreting environmental statutes so as to wage a political war on energy. For the sake of the American people, the Congress should “defend and protect the Clean Air Act” from the EPA.

Here’s the ad:

BobRGeologist August 3, 2011 at 9:35 pm

My feelings exactly. Those jerks at EPA are messing with nature’s security blanket that is our only protection from a return of the next, Pleistocene Ice Age No. 6. Come on you dummies, as long as we have ice in our polar regions we are vulnerable. Your irrespopnsible agency richly deserves defunding. Besides you are wasting money we do not have.

Chuck L August 4, 2011 at 6:41 am

The American Lung Association is off my list of charities.

William August 4, 2011 at 9:57 am

Environmentalist advocacy groups only go for the jugular as much as other groups, heck, if they don’t go for the jugular of anyone who is directly against the goals they advocate, then they would be a terrible advocacy group.

The ALA does have a conflict of interest, but so does everyone, do they not? The NRA gets support from gun makers, the AARP gets immense corporate and pharmaceutical support, the American Heart Association also get significant support from the pharmaceuticals, would these groups not try and defend their supporters? If you’ll forgive the pun, these groups aren’t interested in being disinterested. They all have goals and they go for the jugular to defend them

And your claim is simplistic to the point of being disingenuous…. certain pollution goes down, asthma increases, therefore no significant connection between pollution and asthma…. well cancer rates are on the rise while certain ice cream flavors are being consumed more, therefore cancer is caused by certain ice cream flavors…… both of our statements are simplified statistic that may have correlation but not necessarily causation… The specific pollutants that you listed as decreasing may not unilaterally cause asthma, but other increasing, or specifically concentrated pollutants, for example carbon dioxide from just about everything, or mercury from concrete makers…

I don’t know enough about the other topics in your post, but I do know this…. pouring smoke into the air is not good for people or the environment, just like sucking smoke into your lungs isn’t healthy for you. I believe that the EPA isn’t out for business just to get business, there is not point behind such an attack… Free market businesses try to do things the cheapest way, but often the cheapest way isn’t optimal in any way…. look at lead – it was cheap and easy to obtain, so they used it in paint and gasoline to save money…. not a good idea… nor is using asbestos to build a school. This is the main goal of the EPA, to ensure that the environment, but more importantly, the American people, aren’t on the receiving end of a business trying to cut costs by using toxic, poisonous and otherwise deadly or debilitating products. Look at China, the have very little regulators for business, and we end up with lead paint in toys for babies…. we don’t want to be like that…

TimInVirginia August 4, 2011 at 11:32 am

William, the NRA’s major source of support is NOT from gun MAKERs, it is from gun OWNERS. Their books are open, ask them to show you where the bulk of their funding comes from. Gun makers don’t have nearly as much to fear from out-of-control anti-gun congress people, as gun owners do. Gun makers, after all, in the absence of a public that is allowed to purchase guns, would simply sell to those want to outlaw the guns (in private hands) in the first place – the outlaws in congress.

West August 4, 2011 at 10:44 am

Yeah, I saw this ad, too. Who’da thunk that CO2 causes asthma? Because that is what the EPA is doing right now, expanding it’s authority so it can regulate CO2. All the other things that the EPA does to control real pooution hasn;t changed much, really. So the ALA’s desire to not ‘weaken’ the CAA is really just a smokescreen to let the EPA interpret the CAA to include CO2, to ‘avert’ Anthropogenic Global Warming and really has nothing to do with Asthma or clean air.

DHM August 4, 2011 at 12:41 pm

William, could you please explain to me how a lobbyist or advocacy group receiving funds from private organizations and using them to lobby the government is somehow the moral equivalent of an activist group receiving funds from the government and then using them to lobby the government on behalf of a government organization and *against* the taxpayers who are forced to provide the funding?

BobRGeologist August 4, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Defund the EPA. These jerks are enemies of economic survival over the most trivial of perceived hazards.

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