Does Climategate Undermine the Scientific Integrity of EPA’s Endangerment Finding? You Betcha.

Instead of exercising its “judgment,” as required by Sec. 202 of the Clean Air Act, to determine whether greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions endanger public health and welfare, EPA largely deferred to the judgment of an external agency not subject to U.S. data quality and freedom of information laws — the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IPCC developed three lines of evidence for its conclusion that GHG emissions are causing dangerous global warming. The first is based on the IPCC’s understanding of the physics of the climate system. The second is the claim that recent decades are unusually warm compared to previous centuries during the current interglacial period known as the Holocene. The third line of evidence is the asserted agreement between observations and computer model simulations.

Peabody Energy’s 240-page petition for reconsideration assesses these lines of evidence in light of new information not in EPA’s possession when it drafted the endangerment finding. Much of this new information is contained in the thousands of emails and other files that produced the Climategate scandal. The files and emails provide an insider’s look at the professional (or unprofessional) behavior of leading climate scientists at the UK’s Climate Research Unit and their colleagues in the United States. This scandal has led to the resignation (allegedly temporary) of Dr. Phil Jones as director of the CRU and an official determination that the CRU violated the UK’s freedom of information act

Peabody concludes that the Climategate files undermine each of the IPCC’s principal lines of evidence, and confirm what many climate “skeptics” had long suspected:

The CRU information reveals that many of the principal scientists who authored key chapters of the IPCC scientific assessments were driven by a policy agenda that caused them to cross the line from neutral science to advocacy. Indeed, they went far beyond even what is acceptable as advocacy, as they actively suppressed information that was contrary to the “nice, tidy story” that they wished to present, they refused to disclose underlying data concerning the studies in which they were involved to third parties who might use the information to critique those studies, they engaged in a wide variety of improper and indeed unethical tactics to manipulate the type of scientific information that appeared both in the IPCC reports and in the peer-reviewed scientific journals upon which the IPCC largely relied, and they relied on inaccurate and unverified information from secondary source material that was included anyway to advance the authors’ advocacy agenda. Moreover, the Information Commissioner’s Office of the United Kingdom (“U.K.”), the agency that oversees and enforces the U.K.’s freedom of information laws, after investigation, recently concluded that CRU broke those laws in refusing to respond to information requests.

EPA’s only reasonable course of action, Peabody argues, is to reopen the endangerment proceeding:

EPA has effectively delegated its judgment under section 202(a) of the CAA to an international body that acted contrary to basic U.S. standards of information quality, integrity and transparency. In the interests of good science and policy, and as required by law, EPA must now reconsider its Endangerment Finding in light of the CRU revelations. The importance of low-cost, reliable energy to the economy is too high for EPA to begin regulation based on such an uncertain foundation.