Forwarded from Robert Touraine

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Thu May 8 07:19:17 MDT 2003


"Environmental regulation should be depicted as an incredible
intervention in the operation of society." -John Graham, Speech to the
Heritage Foundation, 1996

The Bush administration has actively campaigned against the Affirmative
Action policy of public universities that are designed to help
African-Americans, other minorities, and poorer students in general.
However, in order to weaken environmental regulations, it takes the
opposite stance regarding older Americans. Apparently, if you are over
70, you get some negative "points".


NY TIMES, Baltimore, May 7 - A Bush administration policy to base some
regulations on a calculation that the life of each person older than 70
should be valued less than the life of a younger person has antagonized
older Americans and environmental groups, and it has stirred tensions
among federal agencies.

Instead of the traditional assumption that all lives saved from cleaner
air are worth the same, administration officials in two environmental
studies included an alternative method that used two values, $3.7
million for the life a person younger than 70 and $2.3 million for an
older person, a 37 percent difference.

Critics call the policy the "senior death discount" and say the
administration is turning on older Americans as a rationale to weaken
environmental regulations.

Today, Christie Whitman, administrator of the Environmental Protection
Agency, said her agency had never applied the policy in its decision
making and never would. ... John D. Graham, the regulations
administrator at the Office of Management and Budget who has been the
champion of the policy, said the calculation would not be used because
it was based on an old study. Dr. Graham insisted he was committed to
the principle of analyzing how many years of life would be added by a
particular measure, not simply the number of lives. ...
Environmentalists say the problem with Dr. Graham's approach is that it
inflates the costs of regulations and diminishes the perceived benefits,
making it easier for the administration to propose a relaxation of rules.

Carol M. Browner, the E.P.A. administrator in the Clinton
administration, said that under the traditional method a particular air
pollution regulation was shown to have benefits of $77 billion but that
the life-expectancy method, along with other more conservative
assumptions, would lower the benefits, to $8 billion.

"They are adjusting the calculations to say that the benefits of less
pollution are much lower," Ms. Browner said.

Although similar analyses were conducted when she was administrator, she
said, no decisions were based on them.

Dr. Graham, founder of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, said the
life-expectancy analysis was being used merely to provide extra
guidance, not set policy. He noted that the Food and Drug Administration
had used it for nearly a decade. ... Mrs. Whitman, however, acknowledged
that Dr. Graham's method would still accompany her agency's studies,
including those on President Bush's "Clear Skies" proposal.

Those methods, with higher costs and lower benefits, would be available
to members of Congress.

Environmentalists said if the agency was not using the life-expectancy
method, it should expunge it. Milton C. Weinstein, a professor at the
Harvard School of Public Health and a pioneer of life-expectancy
analysis, said it had become routine among medical researchers but still
aroused controversy.

MORE ON JOHN GRAHAM Graham, before coming to the  office of OMB, was the
founding director of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (HCRA). The
HCRA is connected to Harvard University as a separate sub-unit of the
Harvard School of Public Health, offering twelve courses in the field of
"decision analysis" to Harvard students but does not itself grant any

The HCRA is funded by more than 100 large corporations and trade
associations, including Boise Cascade Corporation, Georgia-Pacific
Corporation, International Paper, Westvaco, Exxon Corporation, Texaco
Foundation, and the American Crop Protection Association.

John Graham taught short courses and multi-day seminars that grant
"continuing executive education" credits to corporate officers. These
courses train business executives to, among other things, "identify
subgroups of lay people who are likely to be particularly outraged or
tolerant about a potential risk."


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