Competitive Enterprise Institute Petitions EPA to Suspend Proposed CO2 Regs

In light of the Climategate fraud scandal, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) on Wednesday filed a petition asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to suspend its plans to regulate greenhouse gas emissions using the Clean Air Act, pending a thorough investigation of and public comment on the newly released information.

The still unfolding Climategate scandal produced by the release of thousands of emails and documents from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of East Anglia University in the UK raises new questions and doubts about the scientific basis for the Kyoto climate treaty, the successor treaty to be negotiated later this month in Copenhagen, the Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Boxer climate bills, the EPA’s proposed finding that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions endanger public health and welfare, and other EPA regulatory proposals related to the endangerment determination.

For those who haven’t been following the scandal, on Thursday, November 19, several thousand emails and documents from the Climate Research Unit of East Anglia University became available for download from the Internet.

The released information is voluminous. It consists of more than 157 megabytes of data, including over 1,000 emails and 3,400 other documents. Its contents are still being analyzed, and will be for some time to come, but a number of things are apparent.  There were conscious efforts by leading climate scientists to misrepresent or falsify data, to evade Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, and to inject intentional bias into the scientific peer review process. There were also admissions in these emails that global warming largely ceased in the last decade, and that leading climate scientists cannot explain why.

In addition to the emails, sections of annotated computer code from programs used to process climate data were among the revealed documents. The annotations by programmers indicate that the programs were written in such a way as to artificially adjust the data to increase the apparent rate of global warming.

On October 5, CEI petitioned EPA to reopen its Endangerment Proceeding because of a disclosure by the CRU that it had destroyed the raw data for its data set of global surface temperatures. In our view, this destruction of data was a major breach of scientific standards. It warranted a reexamination of the studies based on that data, and a reopening of the comment period to allow public response to this issue.

In the past two weeks, however, new information has surfaced which casts far greater doubt on the validity of CRU’s work. In the view of many, this information destroys CRU’s reputation entirely. Yesterday, CRU announced that its director, Dr. Phil Jones, was stepping down from his position temporarily while the university conducts an investigation of the released material. If the new material is serious enough to have led to the departure, at least temporarily, of CRU’s director, then for that same reason it justifies EPA calling a regulatory time-out.

In a separate action today, several members of Congress -- Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), ranking member of the House Select Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.), and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) -- wrote to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson urging her to withdraw the Proposed Endangerment Finding, the Light Duty Vehicle Rule, and the Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule until the agency can demonstrate the science underlying these regulatory decisions has not been compromised. The members of Congress also noted that EPA had relied heavily on CRU’s research in the development of the endangerment determination.