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EPA rejects petitions to reconsider danger of greenhouse gases

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday re-affirmed its ruling that greenhouse gases are a danger to public health, rejecting petitions from two states, industry groups and conservatives who said it was based on shaky science.

The EPA's decision to reject those petitions was hardly a surprise--the agency was, in effect, being asked to check its own work. But the EPA used the occasion to attack the arguments of its critics, many of them reliant on the "Climate-gate" episode, in which hackers released embarassing emails sent by climate scientists.

"EPA has determined that the petitioners' arguments and evidence are inadequate, generally unscientific, and do not show that the underlying science supporting the Endangerment Finding is flawed," the EPA's decision said. By contrast, it found that the evidence showing climate change is a problem remains "robust, voluminous and compelling."

The EPA's ruling that climate changes pose a danger to public health--in Washington-speak, it's "endangerment finding"--was a kind of bureaucratic starter pistol. That finding, made last year, allows the agency to begin regulating greenhouse gases as harmful air pollutants.

It has already taken some steps to do so, working out limits on tailpipe emissions with car companies. The next step could be imposing emissions limits on power plants and factories.

The finding had been challenged by the states of Virginia and Texas, as well as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Coal Association, and coal giant Peabody Energy.

In his petition, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) argued that the Climate-gate scandal, which centered on e-mails taken from a climate-research center at Britain's University of East Anglia, had undermined EPA's conclusions. The e-mails seemed to show climate scientists discussing problems with their own data, and scheming to muzzle their critics. Cuccinelli said the e-mails raised questions about the "validity and integrity" of the data that EPA relied upon.

The EPA's response cited several investigations that have cleared researchers involved in the scandal of charges of misconduct. It conceded that errors had been found in a landmark United Nations report on climate change. But it said that none of these raised doubts about the overall direction of climate science, and the certainty that climate change was happening and would get worse.

"The core defect in petitioners' arguments is that these arguments are not based on consideration of the body of scientific evidence," the EPA said.

UPDATE: Cuccinelli--who has also sued the EPA over climate change--said in a statement that the EPA's decision was "fatally flawed."


David A. Fahrenthold

 |  July 29, 2010; 3:09 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Please report offensive comments below.

Roger Pielke, Sr has posted an excellent comment about the editorial (The truth about global warming) that the Post published a few days ago. It is very informative and is available at

Posted by: snorbertzangox | August 3, 2010 3:40 PM
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Apparently, the EPA is relying on the United Nations for its "body of scientific evidence". In fact the science is simple; climate change is not caused by carbon dioxide. It is a fact that carbon dioxide is almost totally transparent to infrared light, except carbon dioxide in our atmosphere already stops all infrared light at 15 microns. Therefore, more carbon dioxide cannot make the Earth warmer. A report by Dr. Martin Hertzberg has the scientific facts. To see the report Google "The Lynching of Carbon Dioxide - The Innocent Source of Life".

Posted by: RBlakely | July 30, 2010 8:39 PM
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