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UCLA Professor Sues for Firing over Diesel Pollution Study Whistleblowing

Dr. James Enstrom

A California epidemiologist who lost his job with UCLA not long after challenging the science behind claims that diesel pollution was responsible for 2,000 deaths a year in the state is suing to get his job back.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) announced today it had filed suit Wednesday in Los Angeles against UCLA officials for violating Dr. James Enstrom’s constitutional rights:

“The facts of this case are astounding,” said David French, Senior Counsel of the ACLJ. “UCLA terminated a professor after 35 years of service simply because he exposed the truth about an activist scientific agenda that was not only based in fraud but violated California law for the sake of imposing expensive new environmental regulations on California businesses. UCLA’s actions were so extreme that its own Academic Freedom Committee unanimously expressed its concern about the case.”

Dr. Enstrom, a research professor in UCLA’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences, published important peer-reviewed research demonstrating that fine particulate matter does not kill Californians. Also, Dr. Enstrom assembled detailed evidence that contends powerful UC professors and others have systematically exaggerated the adverse health effects of diesel particulate matter in California, knowing full well that these exaggerations would be used by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to justify draconian diesel vehicle regulations in California. In addition, the complaint argues that he exposed the fact that the lead author of the key CARB Report used to justify the diesel regulations did not have the UC Davis Ph.D. degree that he claimed. Instead, according to the suit, this “scientist”bought a fake Ph.D. for $1,000 from a fictional “Thornhill University.”

Finally, Dr. Enstrom discovered that several activist members of the CARB Scientific Review Panel on Toxic Air Contaminants have exceeded the legislatively mandated three-year term limits by decades. The suit contends that shortly after Dr. Enstrom revealed this systematic wrongdoing, UCLA not only issued a notice of termination, it denied him any compensation for his work by systematically and wrongfully looting his research fund accounts. Dr. Enstrom worked for more than a year without pay as he in good faith appealed his wrongful termination using UCLA procedures. Ironically enough, the fake “scientist” was only suspended for his misconduct while Dr. Enstrom was terminated for telling the truth.

The legally inclined can read the lawsuit here [pdf]. interviewed Dr. Enstrom in 2011 and detailed the controversy, as well as the economic disaster California truckers face in the wake of CARB’s diesel guidelines.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization waded into the subject matter, releasing a study declaring diesel fumes a carcinogen akin to second-hand smoke, so it’s possible truckers in other states (or countries) may soon be fighting this fight as well.

Hat tip to Adam Kissel of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for the Twitter tip. FIRE has beenheavily involved in both covering and assisting Enstrom’s fight.

UPDATE: UCLA has posted their response here.

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