Review only covered procedures and does not question the underlying science used to make the finding
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A new Inspector General report on the EPA’s greenhouse gas endangerment finding is sure to add fire to the political flames surrounding the agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane.
The report concluded that the EPA met existing legal requirements for making its finding, as well as guidance aimed at ensuring the quality of the supporting technical information. Nothing in the IG report challenges the fundamental science used as a basis for the endangerment finding.
But the EPA disagreed with the IG as to whether the technical supporting documents should be considered a highly influential scientific assessment. The IG says it should be considered as such, and that the EPA did not meet federal requirements for such assessments, based on some procedural flaws in the agency’s review process.
The EPA used a different review process because it was a compilation of previously reviewed material.
“The OIG evaluated EPA’s compliance with established policy and procedures in the development of the endangerment finding, including processes for ensuring information quality,” said Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins, Jr. “We concluded that the technical support document that accompanied EPA’s endangerment finding is a highly influential scientific assessment and thus required a more rigorous EPA peer review than occurred,” he added.
“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. We also noted that documentation of events and analyses could be improved.”
We made no determination regarding the impact that EPA’s information quality control systems may have had on the scientific information used to support the finding. We did not test the validity of the scientific or technical information used to support the endangerment finding, nor did we evaluate the merit of EPA’s conclusions or analyses.
We make recommendations that we think will strengthen EPA’s control over data quality processes. 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.”
Conservation groups hastened to point out that the IG findings do not call into question the fundamental science on which the EPA’s finding is based, but global warming skeptics will no doubt spin the IG report for their own purposes — including ongoing challenges to the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases.
“How many more floods, heat waves, wildfires and unprecedented droughts do we need to endure before big polluters and their allies in Congress abandon their desperate attempts to deny that greenhouse gas pollution threatens our nation’s health and welfare?” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute.
“Some may quibble over this procedural question but the bottom line is that it simply has no bearing on the vast scientific consensus on climate change science,” said Siegel. “The information EPA reviewed in its own extensive procedures had already been exhaustively reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, and others.”
Filed under: air quality, climate and weather, Environment, global warming, Summit County news Tagged: | climate change, endangerment finding, EPA, global warming, Greenhouse gas, Inspector General, United States Environmental Protection Agency