CLIMATE:

Two EPA staffers question 'endangerment' science

Two U.S. EPA career employees detailed their concerns about the science underpinning the agency's "endangerment" finding in a report released last night by a conservative think tank.

Republican lawmakers have blasted EPA for failing to release the document, accusing the Obama administration of suppressing dissenting views for political purposes. But EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says the agency considered a broad range of opinions and maintained an open and transparent process in developing the proposed finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare.

Dissent on the proposal was expressed in a March 16 report by Alan Carlin and John Davidson of EPA's National Center for Environmental Economics. They raise questions about data that EPA used to develop the proposed finding. The Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute posted the document on its Web site last night.

"While we hoped that EPA would release the final report, we're tired of waiting for this agency to become transparent, even though its administrator has been talking transparency since she took office," said CEI attorney Sam Kazman. "So we are releasing a draft version of the report ourselves, today."

The report's authors say 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The report says EPA used outdated science to support its finding. The authors cite studies that show -- among other things -- declining global temperatures and a changing scientific consensus on weather patterns. "We believe our concerns and reservations are sufficiently important to warrant a serious review of the science by EPA before any attempt is made to reach conclusions on the subject," Carlin and Davidson wrote.

Carlin is a senior operations research analyst who has worked in EPA's economics office since 1983. He has a doctorate in economics and a bachelor's degree in physics. He specializes in cost-benefit analysis and the economics of global climate change control, EPA said. The co-author of the report, John Davidson, is an environmental scientist in the economics office who holds a doctorate in physics. Davidson also joined the program in 1983.

A string of e-mails surfaced this week showing discussions between Carlin and Al McGartland, the director of the economics office.

In exchanges between March 12 and March 17, Carlin asked McGartland to forward his comments to the office responsible for managing the endangerment finding's development. McGartland declined. "The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision," he wrote (E&E Daily, June 25).

Republicans say the e-mails show the Obama administration suppressed EPA staff comments because they contradict the administration's political decision to move forward with the endangerment finding.

"What's happening here is that the EPA is cooking the books," said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), ranking member of the House Select Committee on Energy and Global Warming. "They have suppressed a study that completely blows apart the scientific underpinnings of the endangerment finding that the EPA administrator made on CO2, and this study has been suppressed because it does not fit the Obama administration's political objectives."

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said EPA's actions raise serious questions about the development of the endangerment proposal, "a finding that relates directly to the rush to vote" today on a sweeping climate and energy bill.

Barton urged EPA yesterday to release the report so undecided members could consider it as they prepare to vote on the legislation.

EPA spokeswoman Adora Andy said earlier this week that Carlin is not a scientist and was not part of the working group that dealt with the endangerment issue.

"Nevertheless, several of the opinions and ideas proposed by this individual were submitted to those responsible for developing the proposed endangerment finding," she said. "Additionally, his manager allowed his general views on the subject of climate change to be heard and considered inside and outside the EPA and presented at conferences and at an agency seminar."

Click here to read the report.

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