EMFguru #2-96, Bureaucracy and the NCRP

Hi everybody:

The NCRP is not one of those acronyms that readily triggers public recognition. It is probably safe to say that not one percent of the American public has ever heard of this organization which exerts so much power over public policy and the public's health where radiation exposure (including EMF) is concerned. The truth is -- until the story appeared in the July/August issue of MICROWAVE NEWS -- the guru had not heard of it. The NCRP is the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements. In its July/August 1995 issue, MICROWAVE NEWS scooped the rest of the EMF-reporting publications by revealing that the NCRP committee which is responsible for EMF matters had submitted for approval a draft report pinpointing EMF as a public health hazard. That report calls upon the nation to take "strong action to curtail the exposure [to EMF] of the U.S. population."


In making this recommendation, the committee proposed a two milligauss exposure limit to take effect immediately for new day care centers, schools and playgrounds as well as for new transmission lines near existing housing.

It is clear that in these recommendations the committee was mainly manifesting its concern for the childhood leukemia risk, though the report speaks of much more than that.

Without doubt, this draft report is the most important declaration about the health hazards of EMF that has appeared so far.

Beyond the above, we will not dwell upon the actual recommendations of the committee at this time. (To obtain a copy of MICROWAVE NEWS, call the U.S. (212) 517-2800 or Fax (212 734 0316.)

Will the Public be served??? ... Or someone else??? ...

Our purpose here is to seek a better understanding of the political and bureaucratic milieu which threatens to drown the NCRP report before the public ever receives it -- as happened before to that other report that attempted to warn of EMF dangers: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report of 1990-92.

The present NCRP was established by act of Congress in 1964 "to collect, analyze, develop and disseminate information and recommendations on radiation protection and measurement in the public interest." (The word "public" needs to be underscored.)

But ... is the 'public interest' being served ... or are the "vested interests" in control??? ...

The Council's charter includes the responsibility for monitoring both ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. It has a small budget, mostly from contracts, grants and contributions, but its principal resource is the voluntary work of the more than 600 experts who serve on the Council and committees. It is governed by an eleven member Board of Directors selected (by whom???) from "leading universities, laboratories and business firms."

That doesn't sound too bad. In fact, it sounds pretty good. It doesn't cost the taxpayer anything. All that high powered "free" help, managed by a board that is selected from "leading universities, laboratories and business firms" -- all of those organizations and persons being purely public spirited and without any conflict of interest with regards to the Council's findings and recommendations. Whoops!! No vested interests in the outcome???

Conflicts of interest??? ...

We'd like to believe that there are no conflicts of interest within the NCRP, but it just isn't the normal pattern of these Washington (politically inspired) institutions. You saw some, regrettably, true to life examples if you followed guru's suggestion and took another look at the two video movies he named: LORENZO'S OIL and THE DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN.

This question of "who" or which vested interests have operative control of the NCRP is terribly important because it now seems that the NCRP is the American public's best hope to provide some truthful public disclosure on the health consequences of EMF -- disclosure that would be devoid of influence by the electric/telecommunications vested interests.

The efforts to delay, block, change or otherwise subvert this committee's report are simply going to be incredible. And it will all take place outside of the public's view.

The U.S. government's record is bad...

Under the Clinton Administration, the EPA and most other EMF-responsible governmental agencies have been castrated, in terms of their ability or willingness to undertake aggressive action on the EMF issue.

The EPA, at one point, was trying to get out of the responsibility altogether. Yet they are the agency that maintains the records of what little governmental effort remains from the Bush Administration -- the 1990-92 report which was prepared (again, at the research level) to declare EMF a probable carcinogen. It is a matter of record that this report was politically strangled by higher level bureaucrats and politicians.

"Cover" for continuing to exploit the public's lack of awareness...

Up until now, the agenda as well as the "findings" and the "PR" of EMF health hazards have been rather effectively controlled by the vested interests of the electric/telecommunications industries.

Meanwhile, under the cover of "prudent avoidance," those industries have pretty much continued to do the same as they did before -- in how and where they build their towers, substations, string their powerlines, how narrow they maintain their rights-of-ways, etc. The results are there for anyone (who is alert) to see.

An Eminent Domain land grab of property -- the likes of which have not been seen since the land grants to the railroad barons in the 19th century -- has been taking place to get their big new transmission lines into place (and, yes, through residential neighborhoods) before the public perceives the consequences. It is happening in our state. Look in your state ... you are likely to see it there, too.

The secret to their success in this campaign of public exploitation is the political and bureaucratic processes that they largely manage in their own vested interests. The public is not well represented in this milieu -- if indeed they are represented at all.

It is into this milieu that the NCRP EMF-committee's report is now about to be submerged.

The specter we are raising here is simply this: In the end, it is not the scientists or researchers that do the actual work of discovery who present and interpret their findings to the world; the final reports are controlled by their "handlers" or "bosses" or "financial sponsors" -- the research community bureaucracy. And what a bureaucracy it is!

Guru admits to having been rather naive about the "scientific bureaucracy" in the beginning of his exposure to the EMF issue. He shouldn't have been because he has had his share of Washington political and bureaucratic experience -- during the Nixon years. Nevertheless, somehow it just did not occur to him that this chronic affliction of institutional control -- by the powerful "special Interest" groups that dominate most of the Washington political and bureaucratic scene -- would also contaminate the scientific world.

"True to Life" videos...

If EMF-L members followed the guru's suggestion -- to view the two recommended video tapes (LORENZO'S OIL and THE DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN) -- you have seen what is meant by the above paragraph. We say again: those two films are uncomfortably true to life. If you didn't see the films, it's not too late. They are also entertaining. The next time you are in your video store -- check them out and take them home.

What chance for objectivity???...

The NCRP Draft Report on EMF Health Hazards -- prepared by the people who have done and are doing the actual work at the research and analytical level -- is now about to go through a process substantially more politically contaminated than that which you saw depicted in LORENZO'S OIL and THE DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN.

What chance do you think this report has for an expeditious, honest and objective review (devoid of influence by the special interests)?

The NCRP Bureaucracy at work...

The initial indications are gloomy. As soon as the "draft report" story appeared in MICROWAVE NEWS, a spokesman of the NCRP issued a press release denouncing the story and containing the following statement:

"When an NCRP scientific committee completes what it considers to be its final draft, the draft enters an extensive review process. This process generally follows the following scenario: (1) general peer review by several selected expert reviewers, (2) revisions of the report based on the comments received, (3) review of the revised draft by the 75 members and approximately 50 organizations involved in the Council's program, (4) further revision of the report to address the comments proffered -- keeping in mind that the 75 Council members must be virtually unanimous [repeat--unanimous] in approval before a report can be issued." [Italic emphasis supplied by the guru.]

By almost any count, and depending upon how one applies "virtually unanimous," the NCRP is telling us: "Forget about it! This report isn't going anywhere."

One (or a few) votes out of about 125 can veto it!

It is naive to think that institutions devised in the manner of the NCRP ... exist for any other reason than to preserve the status quo.

You can also see why we say "it is terribly important" to understand how the NCRP works and who controls it. Based upon their own press release, guru feels entirely justified in dubbing the NCRP the GRAND CHAMPION BUREAUCRACY of the scientific world.

One of the oldest "games" in Washington...

The NCRP is close to being the perfect example of what is possibly the second oldest game in Washington. It is called "over managing the problem."

(What we are about to describe -- guru believes -- is one of the reasons a great many Americans are so fed up with the way our government is not working.)

The objective in "over management" is to kill any chance of being able to take action. The method is to create multiple layers (or bureaucracies or "commissions") -- call them whichever you prefer -- all delegated at least "part" of the responsibility for dealing with a particular issue or problem. In Washington ... the saying goes ... "Assign the problem to a study group, then you can forget about it."

Number one, that makes it look like you actually are trying to deal with the problem. You get "brownie" points for that ... with the media ... and sometimes with a gullible public. (We believe the public is becoming less and less gullible about this.)

Number two, everybody (both political parties, particularly the legislators who get to "appoint" the study group or commission or "council") gets to be "good guys" in the eyes of the vested interests involved. This is the ideal moment to collect "political" contributions. (Remember how that was played in THE DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN? Uncomfortably realistic.)

But most important of all -- the over management "trick" enables everyone to avoid having to make a tough political decision. It puts the problem out of sight to where -- they hope -- nothing will ever have to be done. (You can see the cleverness of the THE DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN's plot in this aspect. Guru even recognized some of the key characters depicted.)

We are being cynical, we know. But we think the Washington record justifies cynicism. We have yet to given one sign that the EMF matter is ever going to be objectively dealt with -- on its scientific merits. No, sadly, guru does not expect much to come out of the NCRP report. And in particular -- not soon.

In the process of multiple layers of unreasonable checks and balances and inordinate delay, the NCRP will be performing exactly the role that Washington intended it to play when it was created. And the public need -- which is never paramount in these matters -- will have to wait.

That is ... unless ... do you suppose ... that one of those governmental bureaucracies which is actually charged with direct responsibility for public health and safety ... might find its missing body parts and take some courageous action?!

By the way--if you would like to see another example of bureaucratic contamination of the scientific process, see: "EMFs Lead to a Fivefold Increase in Gene Expression...." pp. 13,14 of MICROWAVE NEWS, November/ December 1995.

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