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According to a report by Adam Ashton in the Sacramento Bee, California will net a large portion of Volkswagen’s $14.7 settlement for cheating on emissions. Some $10 billion will go to buy-back programs and $4.7 billion toward state and federal air-quality programs, and “California stands to gain $1.18 billion of that money.” Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), a 2007 appointee of governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, announced that the agency would keep a sharp eye on Volkswagen’s repair plan. “As you can imagine with our history with this company,” she said, “we’re not going to take anything on its face.” Taxpayers have good reason to show the same skepticism with CARB
Hien Tran, manager of the Health and Ecosystems Assessment Section in CARB’s Research Division, authored the 2010 report “Methodology for Estimating Premature Deaths Associated with Long-term Exposure to Fine Airborne Particulate Matter in California.” Dr. S. Stanley Young of the National Institute of Statistical Sciences found the report too flawed to be done by a capable statistician, but according to CARB Tran had recently earned a PhD in statistics from the University of California at Davis. In reality, Tran’s PhD came from Thornhill University, a diploma mill located in a New York City UPS office.
The falsifying of academic credentials is a serious matter and can easily end a career. CARB, however, did not fire Tran, opting instead for a suspension and demotion. And CARB used Tran’s flawed study in heavy-handed diesel regulations, a costly state policy.
For CARB boss Mary Nichols, the affair was “a very annoying distraction,” and no legislator called for her resignation. Based on a history of indulging fakery, taxpayers should never take anything from CARB at face value.