This morning, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), ranking member of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, will release a staff report on the scientific issues that tend to discredit the EPA’s endangerment finding for carbon dioxide as a pollutant.
The report’s release coincides with the opening of a committee hearing entitled “The Foundation of Climate Science.” During the hearing the committee will hear testimony from five experts — four defending the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its reports against the criticisms raised since the release of the Climategate files last November, and one, Christopher Monckton, Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, who is a noted skeptic (as well as a PJ Media contributor).
The report summarizes a number of revelations that, according to Rep Sensenbrenner’s staff, combine to call into question the scientific validity of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). Many of these have been reported in PJ Media since our original report on the Climategate files.
The IPCC report might seem to be a secondary issue, however flawed it may be, because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is supposed to base endangerment findings on well-accepted, peer-reviewed science. However, in the EPA’s regulatory announcement (released on April 24, 2009), the EPA itself noted that it “relies most heavily on the major assessment reports of both the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the US Climate Change Science Program (CCSP). EPA took this approach rather than conducting a new assessment of the scientific literature.” [emphasis added]
Even at the time of the endangerment finding, before the Climategate files were released, skeptical voices within the EPA had warned of the inadequacy of the data. Dr. Alan Carlin, also a PJ Media contributor and at the time a scientist within the EPA, had warned that these sources were not sufficient. He also warned that relying on these reports as the primary sources opened the EPA to legal challenge and also risked making extremely expensive regulatory changes without affecting climate change in any significant fashion.
Dr. Carlin’s concerns were suppressed by the EPA. Dr. Al McGartland, head of the EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics, said, forthrightly, that Dr. Carlin’s view was not to be published because “[the]administrator and administration has decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this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.”
That is, Dr. McGartland was saying the decision to issue an endangerment finding had been made at the top of the EPA and counterarguments were unwelcome. Dr. Carlin later found out just how unwelcome his comments had been: he was ordered not to speak about the topic, removed from EPA climate policy committees, and eventually demoted.
This morning’s hearing is of a piece with the administration’s previous positions. In fact, the meeting announcement begins with this statement:
Even after months of personal attacks against climate scientists stemming from a manufactured scandal over stolen emails, the underlying science behind the need to stem the tide of heat-trapping emissions remains solid.
It appears that skeptical views of anthropogenic climate change remain unwelcome, at least in certain quarters in Washington.
[Update: Corrected Sensenbrenner's political affiliation, thanks to commenters Jay and BC.]