US EPA greenhouse regs lack scientific integrity - EPA report

28 September 2011 20:59  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--An internal investigation at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed on Wednesday that the agency failed to meet its own scientific requirements when it ruled in late 2009 that greenhouse gases pose a risk to human health and must be regulated.

In a 100-page study, the EPA’s inspector general said that the agency failed to comply with its own scientific scrutiny standards and did not obtain adequate peer review of the research and data cited by EPA as the basis for its so-called “endangerment finding” in December 2009.

In that finding, the agency held that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHG) generated by human activity are the cause of global warming and, as such, pose a risk to human health and the nation’s environment.

Using that finding as legal grounds under the Clean Air Act, EPA has issued a number of regulations and restrictions to halt and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by US industries, including refiners, petrochemical producers, downstream chemical makers and electric utilities among many others.

Industry argues that the EPA’s many climate rules will drive US electricity costs much higher and force closure of many production facilities and a resulting loss of jobs.

The endangerment finding and resulting regulations, strongly opposed by the chemicals industry, other manufacturers and several state governments, also are being challenged in multiple lawsuits pending in federal courts.

The EPA inspector general’s report was likely to play a role in those suits and ongoing inquiries among Republicans on Capitol Hill about the validity of EPA’s climate change-related regulations.

“This report confirms that the endangerment finding, the very foundation of President Obama’s job-destroying regulatory agenda, was rushed, biased and flawed,” said Senator James Inhofe (Republican-Oklahoma), who had asked for the inspector general investigation in April 2010.

Inhofe, an outspoken critic of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theories, said that the 16-month investigation and report “calls the scientific integrity of EPA’s decision-making process into question and undermines the credibility of the endangerment finding”.

He called for immediate hearings by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which has oversight responsibility for the EPA and on which Inhofe serves as the top-ranking Republican member.

“EPA needs to explain to the American people why it blatantly circumvented its own procedures to make what appears to be a predetermined endangerment finding,” Inhofe said.

Senator John Barrasso (Republican-Wyoming), who also serves on the Senate environment panel, also called for immediate Senate hearings on the inspector general report and the EPA’s endangerment finding.

“Throughout the past two and a half years, the EPA has used its ‘endangerment finding’ as a reason to roll out red tape that destroys jobs across America,” Barrasso said.

“EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has regularly assured Congress and the American people that its finding is based on sound scientific practices,” he said, adding: “It is clear we’ve all been repeatedly misled.”

“The endangerment finding was based on political expediency – not scientific standards,” he said.

Because Democrats hold a slim majority in the US Senate, the Democrat who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator Barbara Boxer of California, controls the panel’s work and what hearings will be held.

However, the EPA’s climate rules also have come under fire from Democrats in the Senate, so observers suggest that Boxer might not be able to avoid holding a hearing on the EPA inspector general’s critical report.

By: Joe Kamalick
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