The Obama Administration’s EPA is having a hard month. First, President Obama directed the EPA to scrap the new Ozone regulation that it was about to enact and not take it up again until early 2013. Does anyone really think that in the midst of the battle over a Jobs Bill and the role that regulations play in creating unemployment, and with the election season starting earlier than ever before that the President had the EPA delay what would be among the most costly regulations ever until after the next election? If you do, I’ve got some coastal property to sell you in New Mexico.
That same day, to much less fanfare, the EPA delayed an assessment of the health effects of the popular industrial solvent trichloroethylene (TCE). This assessment has been 10 years in the making.
Then, in mid-September, the EPA missed its deadline for publishing the first ever greenhouse gas regulations.
For the administration, it’s probably just as well that they let the greenhouse gas deadline slip by. On September 28, the EPA’s own Inspector General found that the agency used a flawed and inadequate assessment of climate science to establish its endangerment finding. The IG did not dispute the idea that humans were causing potentially dangerous climate change. Rather it simply found that the research and materials the EPA used to establish potential harm did not meet federal minimum standards for objectivity under the Information Quality Act. This is not just an indictment of the EPA’s slipshod justification for regulating greenhouse gasses. Rather it represents a serious black-eye for the U.N. Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change. The EPA did none of its own research, instead it just used the IPCC’s reports to establish harm.
The EPA and the environmental lobbyists who have been pushing the government to limit greenhouse gas emissions by restricting energy use felt it would be safe to defer to the IPCC both argue that its research represents the best available science on the issue. The IPCC is held up as the consensus view. I guess the IG felt that consensus wasn’t a substitute for sound science.
The IG’s finding really shouldn’t be that surprising since the IPCC has come under sustained criticism during the past two years for a variety of scandals including: using shoddy research to claim that Tibetan glaciers would disappear by 2035 or sooner when ; claiming that decreased rainfall will cause as much as a 50 percent decrease in crop yields in Africa by 2020; stating that 40 percent of the Amazonian rainforests were endangered by climate change. Each and every one of these claims has been shown to be false by the scientists who are among the top experts in these fields. Indeed, some of the claims were based on claims made in non-peer reviewed, alarmist reports published by environmental groups – no scientists need apply. To top it off there was “Climategate,” in which lead authors of key IPCC chapters were found to have hidden their data, fudged certain numbers, and attempted to suppress the publication of skeptical research. With all this and more as background, it is no wonder that the EPA’s IG found that the agency should do a little objective research on its own.
My suspicion, and it’s just a guess, is that the Obama Administration and the EPA will object to the findings but not fight them. Rather, they will say “just to be safe, to make everyone happy and ensure that the best science is used, well review the available literature and see it if alters our endangerment finding. “
I think this review will take until about, oh, let’s say, early 2013.