EPA Rush to Regulate Carbon Led to Suppression of Internal Criticism

October 15, 2009

EPA Rush to Regulate Carbon Led to Suppression of Internal Criticism

Sensenbrenner, Issa Say Report Shows EPA Putting Politics over Science

Washington, D.C.– The Environmental Protection Agency’s rush to reach a prejudged outcome on a major environmental regulation led officials to squash internal scientific debate  and raises concerns about the Agency’s justifications for a proposed energy tax that will have significant impact on the economy, Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Darrell Issa, R-Calif., charged in a Congressional staff report release today.

EPA suppressed an analyst’s report that challenged the Agency’s scientific record on proposed greenhouse gas regulations, a major plank of the Obama Administration’s environmental agenda, and later tried to discredit him and other employees who raised legitimate issues, according to “The Politics of EPA’s Endangerment Finding,” a report by the minority staffs of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
 
“This Administration promised a prominent place for science in its policy making, but when then most up-to-date science became inconvenient for the EPA, it simply ignored a report from its own staff that poked holes in the case for greenhouse gas regulations,” said Sensenbrenner, Ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. “It seems that when the science doesn’t support the Administration’s agenda, its place is under the rug.”
 
EPA Analyst Dr. Alan Carlin, a 37-year civil employee in the National Center for Environmental Economics (NCEE), was given less than five days to complete an internal review of the Agency’s Technical Support Document (TSD) that presents the scientific case supporting proposed greenhouse gas regulations. Carlin’s report emphasized that the TSD relied on scientific data that was in some cases nearly two years old, including findings from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that were used to support a similar EPA report in 2007.
 
“EPA’s rush to an endangerment finding has viewed dissenting opinions by career professionals as obstacles and hurdles,” said Issa, Ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  “Those who have dared to dissent face retaliation in the media from anonymous voices and find their careers threatened.”
 
Several studies show that greenhouse gas regulations will drag down economic productivity. A National Association of Manufactures report on Congressional greenhouse gas “cap-and-tax” regulations could result in 2.4 million lost jobs, a 50 percent jump in electricity rates and a 26 percent spike in gas prices. A recently uncovered Treasury Department memo showed that the Obama Administration projects the costs of carbon regulations could lead to a 15 percent hike in personal income taxes and an average of $1,761 for each household.
 
“With costs this large, it’s no surprise the EPA put speed before scrutiny,” Sensenbrenner said.  “But these costs should have caused the EPA to take a long pause before pushing greenhouse gases regulations onto the economy. Instead, the EPA hit the fast-forward button and rushed its case through the system, ignoring or marginalizing anyone who raised legitimate questions or challenged scientific assumptions. These cost projections are so high that the EPA should be acting with careful consideration, but instead has shown reckless abandon in a misguided effort to put politics over science and economics.”
 
Carlin’s comments feature the latest scientific studies that weren’t included in the last IPCC report and brought a broader scientific viewpoint to the EPA’s proceedings, but officials told Carlin after rejecting his filing that “the administrator and administration has decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision,” the report said.
 
Additionally, EPA stripped Carlin of any further role in climate change analysis and tried to discredit Carlin’s work by misleading the public about his true role at EPA. Officials dismissed Carlin’s comments by saying he was “not a scientist,” despite his degree in physics from the California Institute of Technology, and that he was “not part of the working group dealing with the issue.” However, the report shows that NCEE assigned Carlin to work on climate change issues for the past seven years and specifically tasked him to respond to the TSD.  In fact, Carlin is listed as an author on the TSD.
 
After Carlin’s comments were made public, EPA officials retaliated against him, the report shows. He was removed from all climate change discussion groups and reassigned to tasks formerly assigned to junior staff and contract employees. EPA is also considering making changes to NCEE that would further limit internal challenges and undermine the Agency’s ability to evaluate the economic and environmental consequences of regulations, the report said.
 
The report raises other concerns regarding the Administration’s efforts to implement its environmental agenda, including:
  • Failure to substantively review thousands of public comments analyzing the economic consequences of its proposed regulations.
  • Misinterpretation of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, which expressly allowed the EPA to forego regulations of greenhouse gases.
  • Questions about whether Energy and Environment Czar Carol Browner violated the Presidential Records Act by reportedly ordering that no notes be kept during some negotiations on climate regulations.
  • Possible protocol violations in an effort to discredit the author of an Office of Management and Budget memo which raised serious concerns about the costs of climate regulations.
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Related Investigation(s):

Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming - Republicans
H2-344 Ford House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-0110 | Fax: (202) 225-0095

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