Combative SLO County officials grill leading scientist in air quality

October 5, 2023

SLO County Supervisor Jimmy Paulding


During a San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) board meeting last week, county Supervisor Jimmy Paulding grilled a leading scientist in air quality who successfully fielded his, at times, loaded questions.

It was a rare chance for the board to hear from Dr. Lynn Russell, one of the nation’s leading scientists in the study of airborne particulates and other aerosols. The board has regularly attempted to block the views of scientists who have questioned the APCD’s inaccurate assertions regarding the makeup of dust blowing on the Nipomo Mesa.

In 2010, the APCD claimed that toxic crystalline silica dust from off-road activity posed a health risk for people living on the Nipomo Mesa. Years later, a study of the dust determined it did not contain crystalline silica.

Since 2011, the APCD has attempted to regulate and fine State Parks for dust blowing on the dunes for a variety of reasons all related to off-road vehicle recreation at the Oceano Dunes.

For more than a decade, the APCD claimed that 100% of PM10, which refers to any airborne particle that is 10 micrometers in diameter or smaller, blowing on the Mesa was mineral dust. However, Russell conducted a study that refuted their claim and lowered that number to 14%.

After more than a decade of alleging dust on the Mesa was 100% mineral dust, the APCD’s Scientific Advisory Group ran their own smaller study, which also found a low percentage of mineral dust contained in the particulate matter blowing on the Mesa.

However, the APCD’s latest argument is that it does not matter what the PM10 is comprised of.

Here are the biggest takeaways from Russell’s appearance at the APCD meeting:

Dr. Russell’s presentation, which lasted 24 minutes, was followed by a 28-minute attempt by Paulding to disparage Russell’s investigation, findings and ethics.

Paulding began his grilling of Dr. Russell by asking who paid for the study, in an apparent attempt to accuse Russell of a conflict of interest.

Russell rebutted Paulding, saying she was working under a contract with State Parks and the University of California San Diego, which required the funding not have anything to do with the results.

In an attempt to promote the APCD’s argument that particles of saltwater in the air are as damaging to humans as particles of carbon, Paulding asked if Russell supported federal regulations that refer to the amount of PM10, regardless of content.

The more important health effects are from the toxicity of the particles, Russell said explaining that it matters if the PM10 is black carbon or dust from the dunes.

“The federal regulations, as often happens, are lagging the science,” Russell said. “We now understand more than they did in the 60s, when this legislation was written.”

Supervisor Bruce Gibson noted he had a doctorate in geophysics, before saying the APCD never concluded that 100% of the PM10 blowing on the Mesa was dust.

SLO Councilwoman Jan Marx used her time to question Dr. Russell’s qualifications and to accuse her of being combative during her presentation. Marx later said she was not referring to Dr. Russell as unqualified, she was calling an unnamed chemist unqualified.

Grover Beach Mayor Karen Bright later refuted Marx, saying that Dr. Russell was not combative during her presentation. County Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg also said Russell was not combative, but quite pleasant.

Pismo Beach Councilman Scott Newton apologized to Dr. Russell for the way some of his fellow board members treated her during the meeting and thanked her for her work.

The board then voted unanimously to receive and file Dr. Russell’s report.

Highlights Of Dr. Lynn Russell’s APCD Presentation On Oceano Dunes

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Jimmy Paulding is a Bruce Gibson/Adam Hill political animal with a set agenda. Just watch. Nothing will change his fixed ideology.

Paulding courted the votes of Mesa residents who believed him when he claimed he was going to shut down the dunes. Science be damned, he doesn’t care how much he has to lie, or who he has to discredit to keep those votes.

Does dust naturally blow off sand dunes? Dunno … do bears sh#t in the woods?

Not without a permit.

Life expectancy continues to go up…. despite the weather….

Actually, just before Christmas 2023, federal health officials confirmed life expectancy in America had dropped for a nearly unprecedented second year in a row – down to 76 years. While countries all over the world saw life expectancy rebound during the second year of the pandemic after the arrival of vaccines, the U.S. did not.

Life expectancy in California is the fourth highest in the nation. I guess that is “despite the weather” but I think it’s more that Californians have been smart in electing officials who would establish laws against guns, tobacco and fossil fuel pollutants.

Diet, exercise, nature walks effects health, but I do use those three vices you mentioned, in moderation,

I find it ironic that many of the same commenters on this site who express doubt about the science behind climate change and vaccines are now jumping on the bandwagon of…wait for it…science. But only when it makes liberals look foolish. I’m sure many of them will be back to bashing future climate change measures and vaccine recommendations very soon.

You’re right about one thing: The scientific truth revealed by Dr. Russell absolutely makes those who unquestioningly back the crooked SLOAPCD and their bully-in-chief Bruce Gibson look foolish.

Dr. Russell’s presentation was fascinating, and maddening. All of what she presented should have been known by this board long before Gibson and Marx and company pushed to regulate Oceano Dunes based on lies and ignorance. The discussion/diatribes by the Board after, was also illuminating. Some, like Peschong, asked clarifying important questions like, is the computer modeling that assumes 100% dust still valid based on the 14% dust findings by Scripps (Answer: No), while others—namely Gibson, Marx, and ol’ Jimmy P—looked like the asses they are. Marx was bitter and incoherent. Gibson bragged about his education without mentioning his work as a petroleum engineer lest he reveal his environmentally exploitive self to his ignorant left-leaner supporters, all while still impressively proving himself to be the county’s top ranked misogynist. And then there is Jimmy P thinking this must be a courtroom and he is slaying this cross examination. But in the end he embarrassingly walked back accusations when Dr. Russell called him on it and showcased only his fondness for hand gestures and hearing his own voice. What a farce of representation.

Gibson has been a professional politician for the past 20 years. His degree is only that. I would bet he has not picked up a professional journal in all these years and is not current in even his narrow area of study let alone particulate science, its own specialty. And Jimmy, the “centrist” who sees every issue as an agenda that must be supported or crushed depending on how it supports or doesn’t said agenda, which of course is entirely progressive and not close to centrist. These two only care about votes and approach every subject with their damp fingers by the open window. Facts be damned.

This is symptomatic of a nation, or a culture, in decline. We are just not electing our best and brightest, because who would want to go through the media colonoscopy one gets when running? If you’re even moderate on the Central Coast you’ll have the TT coming after you as if you attended Nuremberg rallies in your youth. None of these people are very smart, quite frankly. We’re almost at the point where Caligula will make his horse a Senator (may be apocryphal, by the way). The Lefties just hate that the unwashed Hottentots from the Valley, none of whom know the difference between a Malbec and a Syrah, get to come here and have fun. It’s spiteful, plain and simple. And I’m a long, long time local, BTW. We’re in deep doo-doo with this quality of “leadership”.

Appears we only made the posterior of a horse a supervisor… twice. Jimmy and the PhD are both extremely embarrassing. My apologizes to Ms. Russell for their behavior.