AP Whitewashes EPA's Lawless Failure to Follow Review Protocol in GHG Finding, Throws in AGW 'Overwhelming Consensus' Claim

September 30th, 2011 2:31 PM

On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency's Inspector General issued a report on the agency's "compliance with established policy and procedures" in connection with its "Greenhouse Gases Endangerment Finding." This was the finding that "greenhouse gas," or "GHG" emissions, including carbon dioxide, are in essence forms of air pollution, endanger public health, and must therefore be regulated.

As would sadly be expected, what the IG actually found and what the Associated Press's Dina Cappiello reported about the IG's findings sharply differ. Here's what IG Arthur A. Elkins, Jr. wrote in his press statement:

... EPA did not certify whether it complied with OMB’s or its own peer review policies in either the proposed or final endangerment findings as required. While it may be debatable what impact, if any, this had on EPA’s finding, it is clear that EPA did not follow all required steps for a highly influential scientific assessment. ...

... EPA disagreed with our conclusions and did not agree to take any corrective actions in response to this report. All the report’s recommendations are unresolved.

The IG's "At a Glance" document tells us that the EPA blew off the need to engage in any further scientific study (bolds are mine throughout this post):

In our opinion, the TSD (Technical Support Document) was a highly influential scientific assessment because EPA weighed the strength of the available science by its choices of information, data, studies, and conclusions included in and excluded from the TSD. EPA officials told us they did not consider the TSD a highly influential scientific assessment. EPA noted that the TSD consisted only of science that was previously peer reviewed, and that these reviews were deemed adequate under the Agency’s policy. EPA had the TSD reviewed by a panel of 12 federal climate change scientists. This review did not meet all OMB requirements for peer review of a highly influential scientific assessment primarily because the review results and EPA’s response were not publicly reported, and because 1 of the 12 reviewers was an EPA employee.

... no supporting documentation was available to show what analyses the Agency conducted prior to disseminating the information.

The idea that imposing greenhouse gas regulations on the entire economy based on a "scientific assessment" demonstrating some kind of harm isn't "highly influential" is absurd on its face.

In essence, the IG said: "This was a big decision deserving rigorous study." The EPA's response, in essence: "It's settled science. Bug off."

The full 99-page report is here. A key point in the report is at Page 8, namely that the admitted failure by the EPA to follow the procedures required when "highly influential scientific assessments" are involved represents a violation of the 2000 Data Quality Act and the processes that were developed as a result of that act. In other words, the EPA broke the law.

That certainly isn't how the AP's Cappiello reported it. She turned "broke the law" into "cut corners." In one of her earliest reports (produced in full because of its brevity), she also took the Al Gore-driven "the discussion is over" approach:

Report: EPA cut corners on climate finding

An internal government watchdog says that the Environmental Protection Agency cut corners when it produced a key scientific document underpinning its decision to regulate climate-changing pollution.

The Inspector General report, obtained by The Associated Press in advance of its release Wednesday, says the agency circumvented a more robust review process that was warranted for a technical paper supporting a costly and controversial decision to control greenhouse gases for the first time.

The EPA and White House disagreed with the report's conclusions. They said the agency "reasonably interpreted" peer-review guidelines.

Nothing in the report challenges the overwhelming scientific consensus around the causes of global warming. But that's unlikely to stop Republicans and industry lawyers from using it to say the Obama administration should not regulate greenhouse gases without Congressional action.

Note that the above rendition, time-stamped at 10:34 a.m. on Wednesday, was the probable basis for noontime radio and TV reports.

Apparently Cappiello or someone at AP felt that the "overwhelming scientific consensus" statement was a bit strong in one sense, but too vague in another. The expanded version of Cappiello's report time-stamped at 4:58 p.m. Wednesday elaborated, and used it to make those who pointed out the obvious -- that EPA didn't do what it was legally required to do in the circumstances -- look like outliers:

In 2010, a survey of more than 1,000 of the world's most cited and published climate scientists found that 97% believe climate change is very likely caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

But by highlighting what it calls "procedural deviations," the report provides ammunition to Republicans and industry lawyers fighting the Obama administration over its decision to use the 40-year-old Clean Air Act to fight global warming. While the Supreme Court said in 2007 that the act could be used to control greenhouse gases, the Republican-controlled House has passed legislation that would change that. The bill has so far been stymied by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Sen. James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who requested the investigation and one of Congress' most vocal climate skeptics, said Wednesday the report confirmed that "the very foundation of President Obama's job-destroying agenda was rushed, biased and flawed."

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, another critic of EPA regulations, said the agency sacrificed scientific protocol for "political expediency."

Here's a translation of the first excerpted paragraph: "97% of those who are paid to do research whose continued funding depends heaving on coming up with conclusions that human-caused global warming is a problem agree that human-caused global warming is a problem."

Well, I can match Ms. Cappiello's 1,000 (actually 970) with more than 1,000 -- the over 1,000 cited in a Climate Depot Special Report (321-page PDF):

This Climate Depot Special Report is not a "list" of scientists, but a report that includes full biographies of each scientist and their quotes, papers and links for further reading. The scientists featured in the report express their views in their own words, complete with their intended subtleties and caveats. This report features the names, biographies, academic/institutional affiliation, and quotes of literally hundreds of additional international scientists who publicly dissented from man-made climate fears. This report lists the scientists by name, country of residence, and academic/institutional affiliation. It also features their own words, biographies, and web links to their peer reviewed studies, scientific analyses and original source materials as gathered from directly from the scientists or from public statements, news outlets, and websites in 2007 and 2008.

The distinguished scientists featured in this new report are experts in diverse fields, including: climatology; geology; biology; glaciology; biogeography; meteorology; oceanography; economics; chemistry; mathematics; environmental sciences; astrophysics, engineering; physics and paleoclimatology. ... Additionally, these scientists hail from prestigious institutions worldwide, including: Harvard University; NASA; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR); Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the UN IPCC; the Danish National Space Center; U.S. Department of Energy; Princeton University; the Environmental Protection Agency; University of Pennsylvania; Hebrew University of Jerusalem; the International Arctic Research Centre; the Pasteur Institute in Paris; Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute; the University of Helsinki; the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S., France, and Russia; the University of Pretoria; University of Notre Dame; Abo Akademi University in Finland; University of La Plata in Argentina; Stockholm University; Punjab University in India; University of Melbourne; Columbia University; the World Federation of Scientists; and the University of London.

The Climate Depot report also notes that "Only 52 Scientists Participated in UN IPCC Summary." This is the 2007 report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which has been used as the basis for claiming that human-caused global warming is "settled science." Some of the 52 participants are now among the identified dissenters.

The AP's odiously pretentious report ultimately included contributions from Seth Borenstein, who infamously whitewashed the Climategate emails as no big deal (MSNBC's' headline: "Review: E-mails show pettiness, not fraud"). Items accumulated since the scandal first broke at NewsBusters emphatically demonstrate otherwise and cannot be wished away.

In regards to Cappiello's current composition, two words: Settled, schmettled.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.