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OPINION

The Science Is Coming for You … Again

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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While public opinion of Congress continues to reach all-time lows, there is a group that is coming for the crown of most-disliked: lawyers. Only 19 percent of Americans felt that lawyers had high or very high standards of honesty and ethics, according to a recent Gallup poll, while 30 percent said the profession’s standards were either low or very low. 

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The drive-by litigation machine poses an increasing threat to essential goods and services provided that the vast majority of Americans rely on. While some are rightfully held accountable, many of these companies suffer under the current judicial system that allow plaintiffs’ attorneys to exaggerate liabilities with oversized tort lawsuits. Fighting for consumer protections is a necessary component of a safe society, but many trial lawyers abuse this concept to villainize certain industries to enrich themselves. 

Plaintiffs’ attorneys rake in millions of dollars every year by leveraging a carefully designed ecosystem of outside experts, marketing agencies, and political organizations. Complicit in all this is a sensationalistic media industry that shoots first and asks questions later, if at all. 

Remember the H1N1 pandemic where everyone overreacted, including the wasteful slaughter of 300,000 Egyptian pigs because the clickbait term “swine flu” was used instead of just H1N1? Even CBS struggled to defend media sensationalism at the time. 

It’s happening again, but with something a bit more important to daily life. 

So-called progressive environmentalists and their lawyers have taken aim at perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (or PFAS for short), chemicals which they insist will end life on our planet as we know it – and time is running out. (Isn’t it always though?) 

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The offending legislation right now is the PFAS Action Act, which would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to designate the substances as hazardous. 

As stated, the problem is that PFAS are supposedly “forever chemicals,” that accumulate over time in soil, water, and eventually human bodies. Any potential damage must be “remediated” with government control of 5,000 types of chemicals. Sounds like a good goal, but broad bans like this inevitably cause more problems than they fix. 

It’s important to keep our environment as clean as possible – and, spoiler, it’s gotten cleaner and cleaner as time has gone on. But the outcome of the PFAS Act would be overregulation, litigation, discontinuation, and finally appreciation for the product that had previously been such an integral part of daily life. 

PFAS are used in a variety of industries – according to the EPA, which does not include them among common sources of drinking water contaminants – including food packaging, commercial household products, raincoats, paints, and so on. In fact, Minnesota-based manufacturer, 3M, recently published a full list of nearly 15,000 different products containing PFAS. 

The substances are critical components in commercial electronics, notably cell phones. PFAS are involved in the production of semiconductors, help cool data centers for cloud computing, and stabilize cell phones. Given that we are already in the midst of a global shortage of semiconductors, banning PFAS will only make matters worse – especially if China exploits the lacuna of strength in the White House right now to invade Taiwan

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PFAS are also crucial components in medical equipment. The same thing that supposedly makes PFAS an environmental bane – a “forever chemical” – is that they are chemically inert and durable. That means they’re useful for creating contamination-resistant products like gowns, drapes, and face masks

They are also used in implantable, life-saving medical devices like vascular grafts, surgical meshes, and catheter tubes. Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) wanted the PFAS Action Act to include an exemption for medical devices, but the Democrats shot him down. 

What would he know – he’s just a heart surgeon. Trust The Science™, not science. 

PFAS can also help people from needing to see the doctor, as they’re useful in fire retardants. Call me selfish, but if there are alternative chemicals that are dramatically worse at extinguishing flames, sign me up for the good stuff. 

Due to the threat of bad faith “science” discussions and regulatory action, 3M took the proactive step of announcing it would be discontinuing its use of PFAS by 2025

Now is where the rubber meets the road (and yes, PFAS is in rubber). An important ingredient that is used in countless products is now going to be phased out by a large supplier at a time when the supply chain needs to be shored up. Will we see an orderly transition or more cherry-picked data in the hands of greedy lawyers and overzealous lawmakers? 

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Only time will tell, but if the progressives and environmentalists continue to push ridiculous unfounded regulations upon us, I hope everyone got everything they wanted for the holidays this year because we might not be able to get them come December 2023. 

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