by Devra Davis, devradavis.medium.com, 9 November 2021
On the cusps of major holidays, federal agencies typically put out news dubbed “throwing out the trash” that slip under the public radar. Just before Christmas of 2019, the U.S. Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) quietly unleashed its determination to affirm safety standards for wireless radiation developed in 1996, rejecting reams of evidence about the harms caused by wireless radiation — evidence that was submitted in response to an FCC request years earlier.
In its decision, the agency asserted that phones, cell towers, and the yet-to-be devised network of more than a million new 5G antennas can all safely be evaluated by the standards that were developed when those technologies were not even on the drawing board.
Of course, agencies are free to disagree with submitted evidence. But they are not free to ignore it altogether. They must prove that they have actually read and considered the materials received.
The courts tend to assume that federal agencies are competently making these types of decisions. But not in this case. In reviewing the lack of any serious consideration of the thousands of pages of submitted scientific evidence, the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia Circuit determined in August 2021 that the agency had engaged in “arbitrary and capricious” behavior for failing to provide a “reasoned record” of decision-making regarding its now quarter-century old safety standards.
Basically the court said, you gotta be kidding me? You’re claiming that you can take 20th century exposure limits and apply them to tech that did not exist when those limits were first concocted. You are seriously arguing that the FCC need not bother to read and evaluate thousands of pages of submitted published expert evidence on risks to public health and the environment, including that of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the U.S. National Toxicology Program, the U.S. Department of Interior and others?