Science not as settled as some claim

When Environmental Protection Agency officials vowed just a few years ago to enforce severe new rules regarding coal ash, they said they had science to back them up. Why, heavy metals from the ash cause cancer, said some of those applauding the EPA.

Some people questioned that. As U.S. Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) pointed out in his successful campaign to force the EPA to rethink its plan, coal ash has been used widely for many years in products ranging from concrete to drywall, with no evidence it is a cancer-causing agent.

Now researchers at Duke University have provided evidence coal ash was targeted wrongly. The prevalence of the carcinogen hexavalent chromium in water wells near coal ash pits is a natural phenomenon, scientists found. The heavy metal in North Carolina and some other states is a problem related more to volcanic rock than coal ash.

Duke’s scientists emphasized more research on coal ash may be needed. But their conclusion it is not the culprit the EPA’s supporters claimed is solid.

Good for the Duke researchers for discrediting what once was — dare we say it? — “settled science” among some radical environmentalists. One wonders what other articles of faith among that crowd and the bureaucrats who serve them are more scare tactic than fact.