WASHINGTON, July 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — President Obama’s nominee to head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), David Michaels, should be grilled by the U.S. Senate about his links to trial lawyers and other anti-science activist groups, JunkScience.com says.
“Michaels supports the use of junk science as a basis for public policy and court decisions, representing a threat to employers, employees, consumers and taxpayers,” said Steve Milloy, publisher of JunkScience.com.
Michaels runs something called the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy (SKAPP) at the George Washington University. While its university affiliation and academic name would seem to lend it a modicum of credibility, in fact, SKAPP’s origins are much more revealing.
As Milloy first reported in the Wall Street Journal in October 2003, SKAPP was launched by something called the Common Benefit Trust — an expense account originally established for the purpose of compensating silicone breast implant (SBI) plaintiff lawyers for legitimate services and expenses incurred in connection with the multi-billion dollar SBI litigation.
But some of that money was diverted to form SKAPP, whose mission was to work to overturn the 1993 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals — the landmark decision that permits judges to set up scientific review panels in federal litigation to keep junk science out of the courtroom. One Daubert panel played a pivotal role in stopping SBI litigation in federal courts.
SKAPP has also been recently active in the controversy over the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), which is used in food and beverage packaging.
The day after Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced a bill to ban BPA in baby and children’s products in April 2008, personal injury lawyers filed a billion-dollar class action lawsuit against five baby bottle manufacturers for using BPA in plastic baby bottles and toddler training cups.
Around that time, Michaels was active in the media against BPA, telling the Washington Post, for example, that BPA makers were like the tobacco industry because, he claimed, raising questions about the science underlying regulatory action is merely a tactic to delay regulation.
“Apparently, the only decent thing for an industry wrongfully besieged by activists and the government to do is to knuckle under in Michaels view,” Milloy said. “Be assured that Michaels will advance the insidious junk science agenda at OSHA unless the Senate stops him,” Milloy added.