US EPA blasts in-house report critical of climate rules’ science

28 September 2011 23:27  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday said that it strongly disagrees with an internal finding by its own inspector general that the agency failed to meet federal scientific peer review standards in developing broad climate change regulations.

An investigation report by the EPA’s inspector general issued on Wednesday said that the agency failed to meet its own scientific requirements when it ruled in late 2009 that greenhouse gases (GHG) pose a risk to human health and must be regulated and reduced under an EPA mandate.

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, the 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.

“We strongly disagree with the inspector general’s findings,” the agency said in a statement.

Among the investigation’s findings, EPA failed to test the validity of the outside scientific or technical information used by the agency to support its endangerment finding.

In its December 2009 endangerment finding and supporting documents, the EPA said it relied heavily on information in reports by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), data that has been challenged by several members of Congress and other critics.

But in responding to the inspector general’s criticism and in defence of the IPCC research, the EPA said that since its endangerment finding of December 2009, “the vast body of peer reviewed science that EPA relied on to make its determination has undergone further examination by a wide range of independent scientific bodies [and] all of those reviews have upheld the validity of the science”.

Sceptical senators in the US Congress have called for hearings to reconsider EPA’s endangerment finding.

By: Joe Kamalick
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