By Stephen Dinan
The Washington Times
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
The Environmental Protection Agency’s internal watchdog said Wednesday the Obama administration cut corners in evaluating the science it used to back up its finding that carbon is a dangerous pollutant that can be regulated under existing federal law.
The report by the EPA’s inspector general is certain to be used in court by those seeking to overturn EPA’s claim that it can write global-warming rules under existing law and doesn’t need new authority from Congress.
Investigators did not evaluate the scientific conclusions. The report said EPA did follow basic rules but didn’t treat the finding as seriously as the situation required, and failed to meet administration guidelines for peer review of such a major issue.
“EPA had the [science] reviewed by a panel of 12 federal climate change scientists. However, the panel’s findings and EPA’s disposition of the findings were not made available to the public as would be required for reviews of highly influential scientific assessments,” the investigators said. “Also, this panel did not fully meet the independence requirements for reviews of highly influential scientific assessments because one of the panelists was an EPA employee.”
The inspector general said EPA failed from the outset to identify the Technical Support Document, or TSD, as “influential,” which would subject it to heightened standards of scientific review.
EPA rejected the report, saying the science it did use was peer-reviewed, and said it based its findings on the work of other major bodies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“No weighing of information, data and studies occurred in the [technical document],” the agency said in its official comment submitted to the report. “That had already occurred in the underlying assessments, where the scientific synthesis occurred and where the state of the science was assessed.”
At issue is EPA’s claim that it can regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. Under its 2009 “endangerment finding” that emitting greenhouse gases poses a threat to human health.