Tran scandal could keep air board chief from EPA post

Dec. 30, 2012

By Chris ReedThornhillPhD

As soon as I heard EPA chief Lisa Jackson was leaving, I took to Twitter to predict state air board chair Mary Nichols would be considered a hot candidate for the job, as she was in 2008. When the San Francisco Chronicle got around to this angle Saturday, I expected the usual cheerleading. Instead, lo and behold, it acknowledged the Hien Tran scandal that I broke after being tipped off by UCLA epidemiologist James Enstrom — and the Chronicle framed it as the worst thing to happen on her watch:

“Either way, if nominated, it’s likely we’ll hear about some of the not-so-great air board moments under her leadership. Among those is how she handled a researcher whose work supported a major diesel exhaust regulation and who was found to have lied about his scientific credentials.

“Nichols didn’t tell all of the board members about the falsification before they voted to approve a regulation based on his research. Also, he was never fired.”

I began writing about this story in December 2008. When I established that Hien Tran didn’t have the Ph.D. he claimed from UC Davis, it was the lead item on Rough & Tumble one afternoon. Afterwards, it disappeared from California’s mainstream media for a few months, even as I broke the news that the degree Tran presented the air board with was a mail-order Ph.D. from Thornhill University, a diploma mill associated with, yes, a fugitive pedophile.

Thankfully, in March 2009, Lois Henry of the Bakersfield Californian started writing great columns that did a powerful job of demolishing Tran’s rotten science. John and Ken had me on to talk about the scandal and eventually even gave James Enstrom a platform to explain how he figured out Tran’s deceit.

Finally, after a September 2009 air board meeting at which the full governing board was confronted with evidence of Tran’s fraud, did the bleep begin to hit the fan.

Finally, Mary Nichols was held to account for keeping the Tran scandal from a majority of the board even as it voted for highly controversial diesel emission rules based on his work.

Even then, it still took a month for the mainstream media to tackle the story, and when they did, Dan Walters wrote a dishonest column excusing Sacramento journalists for not taking the scandal seriously a year earlier when I broke it.

But now it could cost Nichols an EPA seat. The story of how Tran kept his job while Enstrom got fired for rocking the boat would be riveting at a Senate hearing — and the background information is plentiful on the web.

Yo, Mary: karma time!



Write a comment
  1. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 December, 2012, 09:16

    “Nichols didn’t tell all of the board members about the falsification before they voted to approve a regulation based on his research. Also, he was never fired.”

    This is so common, there is NO accountability in gov whatsoever.

    Reply this comment
  2. Ventura Capitalist
    Ventura Capitalist 30 December, 2012, 11:16

    First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere apology to CARB’s ace scientist Mr. Hien Tran (sorry, I mean DOCTOR Tran). I have in previous posts referred to the distinguished doctor as a “diploma mill dropout.” However it appears he did in fact successfully purchase his doctoral degree from the diploma mill. I regret the error.

    Since this fiasco might knock Nichols out of the running, how about Chicago 7 terrorist bomber John Froines for the job?

    Sure, he would have to give up his job on the CARB Scientific Review Panel where he has been for 28 YEARS (never mind that the position has a legal term limit of three years).

    But his association with the Black Panthers should give him, shall we say, a leg up for the EPA post.

    After all, Froines has been lifting his leg on the California economy for decades.

    Reply this comment
  3. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 30 December, 2012, 16:50

    Let’s hope that karma finally catches up with Nichols – her lack of leadership and deliberate obfuscations may be a bonus for her job in CA, but should be deal breakers at the national level. Especially with her creation of the phony cap and trade corporation, WCI, Inc. registered in Delaware… Wishing that her background and history would finally catch up to this nasty bureaucrat.


    Reply this comment
  4. Ms Right
    Ms Right 30 December, 2012, 22:46

    AMEN to Katy’s comment – my thoughts exactly.

    Reply this comment
  5. Hondo
    Hondo 31 December, 2012, 09:01

    When I was working for the forest service, trying like so many to get on year round, full time (FTE ), we found out that one guy who got a year round job had lied about his collage degree he didn’t have. I have no idea why they didn’t fire him, being that he was white and at the time the FS was on a binge of minority hiring. His bosses weren’t right wing whites. Most of the bosses are moderate to liberal. Apparently they were just embarrassed and didn’t want to hurt the reputations of the lazy people who hired him( who failed to do a decent background check). To this day I haven’t heard a good reason why he wasn’t fired. I think he knew where some ‘bodies’ were buried, some bad things his bosses had done.
    The failure of the Tran-Nichols scandal is a failure of the mainstream media. I am pro choice, for gay rights and think 30 round mags should be illegal. But even where I am on the political scale, I see the main media so far to the left of me as to wonder if they aren’t a part of the demoncratic party. This story on Tran-Nichols is a great story and is easily documented. But it was never run. Kinda like fast and furious.
    Go figure.

    Reply this comment
  6. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 31 December, 2012, 17:11

    I have a question, why isn’t ANYONE ever fired in gov employment short of a felony conviction????

    Reply this comment

Write a Comment

Leave a Reply

Related Articles

Judges Blast Pricey Computers

DEC. 21, 2010 By KATY GRIMES The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles is notorious for glacially paced licensing procedures, lackluster

Brown’s Tax Canoe Headed For Water Fall

MARCH 23, 2012 By WAYNE LUSVARDI California Gov. Jerry Brown likens himself to a canoeist who paddles a little to

CalPERS worse than Goldman Sachs

The hearing on the SB919 pension-reform bill is ending without a vote, because the committee lost its quorum, but it