Report: EPA cut corners on climate finding

Sep 28, 2011 By DINA CAPPIELLO , Associated Press

(AP) -- The Obama administration cut corners before concluding that climate-change pollution can endanger human health, a key finding underpinning costly new regulations, an internal government watchdog said Wednesday.

Regulators and the White House disagreed with the finding, and the report itself did not question the science behind the administration's conclusions. Still, the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency's is sure to encourage global warming doubters in Congress and elsewhere.

The report said EPA should have followed a more extensive review process for a technical paper supporting its determination that greenhouse gases pose dangers to and welfare, a finding that ultimately compelled it to issue controversial and expensive regulations to control greenhouse gases for the first time.

"While it may be debatable what impact, if any, this had on EPA's finding, it is clear that EPA did not follow all the required steps," said Inspector Arthur A. Elkins, Jr. in a statement Wednesday.

The EPA and White House said the greenhouse gas document did not require more independent scrutiny because the scientific evidence it was based on already had been thoroughly reviewed. The agency did have the document vetted by 12 experts, although one of those worked for EPA.

"The report importantly does not question or even address the science used or the conclusions reached," the EPA said in a statement. The environmental agency said its work "followed all appropriate guidance," a conclusion supported by the budget official who wrote the peer review guidelines in 2005.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said repeatedly that her conclusions were based on the underlying science, not the agency's summary of it.

The decision - which marked a reversal from the - was announced in December 2009, a week before President headed to international negotiations in Denmark on a new treaty to curb global warming. At the time, progress was stalled in Congress on a new law to reduce emissions in the United States.

In 2010, a survey of more than 1,000 of the world's most cited and published climate scientists found that 97 percent believe climate change is very likely caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

But by highlighting what it calls "procedural deviations," the report provides ammunition to Republicans and industry lawyers fighting the Obama administration over its decision to use the 40-year-old Clean Air Act to fight global warming. While the Supreme Court said in 2007 that the act could be used to control , the Republican-controlled House has passed legislation that would change that. The bill has so far been stymied by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Sen. James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who requested the investigation and one of Congress' most vocal climate skeptics, said Wednesday the report confirmed that "the very foundation of President Obama's job-destroying agenda was rushed, biased and flawed."

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, another critic of EPA regulations, said the agency sacrificed scientific protocol for "political expediency."

Environmentalists, meanwhile, said the inspector general was nitpicking at the public's expense. The investigation cost nearly $300,000.

"The process matters, but the science matters more," said Francesca Grifo, a senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists. "Nothing in this report questions the agency's ability to move forward with global warming emissions rules."

A prominent environmental attorney and Columbia University law professor questioned what effect, if any, the report would have on global warming policy.

Michael Gerrard said that while lawyers and politicians would try to use the report to fight EPA regulations, the scientific case for has only gotten stronger.

The report itself found that EPA "generally" adhered to data quality requirements. But it said while the agency's document was based on well-established and peer-reviewed science, it required additional independent scrutiny because the EPA weighed the strength of that science. The inspector general pointed out that the EPA did not publicly report the results of the review and that one of the dozen experts who reviewed the document worked at the agency.

EPA officials said that information was included, but not in the format the inspector general wanted.

The Obama administration has emphasized the importance of peer review.

Six weeks after taking office in 2009, Obama issued a memo that said: "When scientific or technological information is considered in policy decisions, the information should be subject to well-established scientific processes, including peer review where appropriate, and each agency should appropriately and accurately reflect that information in complying with and applying relevant statutory standards."

A year later, the president's science adviser, John Holdren, emphasized the "particular importance" of outside review by scientists.

Explore further: Tens of thousands expected at New York climate march

More information: EPA inspector general's report: http://www.epa.gov/oig/

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omatumr
1 / 5 (4) Sep 28, 2011
The Obama administration cut corners before concluding that climate-change pollution can endanger human health


Thanks for this report.

We all want to protect human health, but . . .

In view of the damage to our economy when CO2-emitting plants were closed or moved overseas, it is important to know if there was in fact any scientific validity to the EPA claim that CO2 is a dangerous air pollutant.

I agree that "EPA should have followed a more extensive review process for a technical paper supporting its determination."

Other industry emissions are dangerous, but I am not convinced that CO2 is.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel

jonnyboy
1 / 5 (1) Sep 29, 2011
FUN
Howhot
5 / 5 (2) Sep 29, 2011
Fun indeed! Everyone, anyone that knows about politics in the US knows that the tea party house republicans (ie nut case right wing) would like nothing more than to not believe Science. That is what they do. No science, no Engineering, no Biology. It's all way WAY too above their heads.

So is CO2 and global warming. (stupid idiots they are).