Thursday, February 25, 2010

Administrator Jackson and the EPA and Strong Arm Tactics

In April 2009, the EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson signed a proposed endangerment and a cause or contributes findings for greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. If you will recall at the end of the comment period Alan Carlin and John Davidson of the US EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics detailed their concerns about the science underpinning the agency's "endangerment finding" for carbon dioxide. The two said the US EPA accepted findings reached by outside groups, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, "without a careful and critical examination of their own conclusions and documentation." The duo raised questions about what data if any that EPA had used to develop the proposed finding. The EPA dismissed these concerns and barred the two from working in this area in the future.

The hacked emails from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU) a collaborator with the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the recent revelations from the IPCC provide support for the concerns of Alan Carlin and John Davidson. The US EPA is required to make its own evaluation of the underlying science not depend on the findings of others for its Endangerment Determination and must determine that greenhouse gases are harmful to human health based on the science. Phil Jones, the University of East Anglia scientist and a target of the e-mail hack, acknowledged that there hasn't been statistically significant climate warming since 1995; thought the carbon dioxide level has continued to rise. In an interview with the BBC, he said "the vast majority of climate scientists" do not believe the debate over climate change is settled. Mr. Jones continues to believe in global warming but acknowledges there's no consensus in the scientific community.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) purported to proclaim the final word on Climate Change in 2007, in a 3,000 page report that have been revealed to be less than scientific truth. The IPCC now admits that its prediction that the Himalayan glaciers might disappear by 2035 was a mistake, based on an inaccurate citation to the World Wildlife Foundation. This advocacy group was also the basis for a claim the IPCC has backed away from—that up to 40% of the Amazon is endangered. Now the IPCC has also backed away from the predicted impacts of climate change on agriculture in Africa. The IPCC report mistakenly doubled the percentage of the Netherlands currently below sea level to the dismay of the residents. John Christy, a former lead author of the IPCC report, now says the "temperature records cannot be relied on as indicators of global change." As these fictions have been revealed, the top U.N. climate-change bureaucrat, Yvo de Boer, announced his resignation.

Although the EPA could have delayed until March the announcement of findings, they instead choose to announce their Endangerment Determination in the wake of the disclosure of emails hacked from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU). The emails released revealed some researchers willingness to suppress or massage data, hide weather data and rig the peer-review process to control the publication of scholarly work, the EPA dismissed any questions raised as a the “couple of naysayers,” deniers and dismissed them out of hand. The Endangerment Determination was a political decision and not a scientific finding. The Administration chose the first day of the United Nations global warming conference in Copenhagen as a way to signal full US acceptance of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change determinations. However, support for an accord had eroded and despite the President’s arrival at Copenhagen no accord was reached.

Rather than make an independent determination whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, the EPA made a political determination and in the process crushed two dedicated employees for the greater political good. Those kinds of actions should not happen in the United States. Administrator Jackson owes and apology to Alan Carlin and John Davidson and the American people. The true shame is that we should be paying attention to the carbon dioxide level in the atmospheres; w e remain ignorant of the true functioning of the climate system. Hiding and distorting data, dismissing other points of view as deniers is not how we will come to understand the climate system. The University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU) should release the data to the scientific community to allow them to utilize what data we have to further our understanding of the climate system instead of pushing on political agenda. On Monday, the EPA announced that it would comply with the request from Kenneth Cuccinelli, Attorney General of Virginia and several other states to delay regulation of carbon dioxide from point sources. The endangerment determination should be reexamined in light of the recent disclosures.

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