The emails and computer files from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) in Great Britain may prove to be of some importance to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) current attempts to control greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

This is because the EPA — perhaps at the urging of others in the Obama administration — has proposed to regulate GHG emissions on the basis of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports … and reports primarily based on the IPCC reports.

This is highly unusual for the EPA. I cannot think of any instance where the EPA depended so heavily on non-EPA synthesis reports to justify proposed regulatory action in their almost 39 years of existence.

As a result of this EPA decision, the EPA’s fortunes in regard to regulating GHGs are directly tied to the fate of the IPCC reports.

Although it is hard to argue that any one CRU email or computer file notation proves the IPCC conclusions wrong, as a whole they do strongly suggest two conclusions:

1. CRU and many of its associates and email recipients elsewhere (who I will henceforth refer to as “CRU et al“) are very tightly tied to the IPCC — both in influence and belief — and do not appear to be paragons of scientific objectivity and ethics.

2. Their data handling leaves something to be desired in terms of data retention, database documentation, and questionable data manipulation.

CRU et al.’s lack of scientific objectivity

It seems clear to me that if a group (such as the EPA) wanted to get an objective scientific judgment on climate change science, CRU et al — and therefore the IPCC — might be the last place that they would want to rely on.

Each “trick” CRU et al used to torture their data to yield what appears to be their desired conclusions may have fooled a few more readers into thinking that their basic arguments were valid, but has to decrease the overall assessment of their objectivity.

Attempts to manipulate peer reviews and journal acceptances are not acceptable scientific activities. Withholding key scientific data can only make one question their dedication to scientific principles. Hiding their alleged destruction of the basic temperature data that would allow reconstruction of what they have done is almost as bad as discarding such critical data in the first place. Using data that cannot be reproduced is not very useful scientifically, or from a regulatory viewpoint.

Yet despite these now evident problems with the CRU et al’s data and research, the EPA is now stuck with the IPCC reports, and therefore the closely associated CRU et al’s data and research has become central to the EPA’s attempts to regulate GHGs. Given that it currently appears unlikely that the Senate will agree to anything resembling the current cap and trade bill, this EPA decision may well greatly decrease the chances that the U.S. will in the end implement serious regulation of GHGs — since, under the Clean Air Act, EPA regulations must survive judicial review of any regulations that the EPA may promulgate.