U.S. watchdog: EPA took shortcut on climate finding

WASHINGTON Wed Sep 28, 2011 2:01pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took a shortcut in laying the groundwork to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, a government watchdog said on Wednesday in a report that could fuel Republican efforts to block the agency's new rules on climate.

EPA's Inspector General said in report the agency met requirements making rules on emissions blamed for warming the planet and followed rules to ensure the supporting technical information was qualified.

But it said EPA should have conducted its own peer review of climate science rather than relying on science previously conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council and others.

Republican Senator Jim Inhofe, the minority member of the Senate's environment panel who called for the report, said it showed the EPA's "endangerment finding" on the emissions was inadequate and violated the agency's peer review procedures.

"This report confirms that the endangerment finding, the very foundation of President Obama's job-destroying regulatory agenda, was rushed, biased, and flawed," Inhofe said in a release. Inhofe, a longtime climate skeptic who is writing a book on global warming called "The Hoax," said he was calling for immediate hearings on the EPA issue.

The EPA said on Wednesday it would consider the inspector general's recommendations to revise its Peer Review Handbook and establish requirements for assessing data from other organizations.

But it was adamant the science it relied on, from the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, the National Research Council, and the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was sound.

"The report importantly does not question or even address the science used or the conclusions reached -- by the EPA under this and the previous administration -- that greenhouse gas pollution pose a threat to the health and welfare of the American people," an agency source said.

Senator Inhofe said that the EPA relied heavily on the U.N.'s climate science panel to make the finding, a claim rejected by EPA administrator Lisa Jackson.

The EPA issued the endangerment finding, which said greenhouse gases endanger public health or welfare, in late 2009 after the Supreme Court ruled in 2007 the agency could regulate the emissions under the Clean Air Act. The agency had to conclude the emissions were harmful before regulating them.

Since then the EPA has embarked on rules to reduce the emissions from sources including power plants, oil refineries and vehicles.

Last week the Republican-controlled House passed a bill to block the EPA rules, saying they would cost industry billions of dollars and kill jobs. But the measure faces an uphill battle in the Senate and President Barack Obama has vowed to veto it.

Environmentalists said the report did nothing to question the science.

"Nothing in this report questions the agency's ability to move forward with global warming emissions rules," said Francesca Grifo, the science integrity director at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"The inspector general made it clear that EPA followed current guidelines for ensuring that it based its decision on robust scientific analysis."

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by David Gregorio)

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Comments (3)
Foghorn wrote:
Pathetic denial or paid-off talking parrot

Sep 28, 2011 2:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
ProfMandia wrote:
See: Senator James Inhofe’s Sneer-Reviewed Science

The EPA was correct in relying on the IPCC and NRC reports because these reports represent our current understanding of climate change science so they must be used to inform policy. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) suggests otherwise. His position is nonsensical and completely disrespects thousands of international experts and their fields of expertise.

Why would a US Senator be so anti-science with regard to climate change? I can think of 1,189,050 rea$on$.

Senator Inhofe should be reminded that he works for Oklahomans and Americans – not fossil fuel companies and China.

Sep 28, 2011 3:06pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
k4ntico wrote:
The subject matter of this report appears to be conflicting hearsay about another report denying that yet another act of reporting followed adequate rules of credentials verification. In this confusion, the last-in-chain reporters clearly depart from balanced reporting by the way they assert in their title more than what they are witness to. And if these reporters couldn’t manage to hear the watchdog bark by themselves, they could at least inform us better on its pedigree.

Sep 29, 2011 3:11am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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