Nine Experts Slam EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s ‘Clean Power Plan’ Speech

Anyone trying to understand why the climate change debate has become so toxic need look no further than the August 11 speech by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy.

In her presentation at the Resources for the Future (RFF) Policy Leadership Forum, her first public appearance since the August 3 release of the EPA’s "Clean Power Plan" (CPP), McCarthy demonstrated everything that is wrong with the Obama administration’s approach to the issue. The EPA employs error-riddled interpretations of climate science and economics, and couples this with language designed to trick the public and the press into thinking the plan is something it is not.

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A Biased Host

The forum started with an introduction by Dr. Raymond Kopp, RFF’s Energy & Climate Economics co-director, who told the audience:

As many of you know, we’re not an advocacy organization. We’re not cheerleaders for any particular policy or point of view. Our goal is really to provide the best scholarly research to the policy community so it can develop the most efficient, efficacious, affordable, and best public policies possible.

Laudable goals indeed ... but Kopp immediately betrayed RFF’s supposed objectives when he next said:

The Clean Power Plan in its current form as a final rule is likely the most significant development in U.S. history with respect to climate change. I don’t think any of us believe otherwise. It is a tremendously substantial rule and one that will have significant impact.

[Developing the rule] took a lot of hard work by many people inside and outside of government and it took an awful lot of leadership and luckily Gina McCarthy was available, ready, and willing to undertake that leadership role and for that we are most thankful.

Addressing McCarthy directly, Kopp concluded:

Thank you for getting the job done, for doing it exceedingly well, and shepherding the Clean Power Plan through all of these hurdles that were necessary to bring it to a final rule today. And, I think, thank you for doing it in an environment where the politics and the rhetoric really make this job as difficult as possible.

Considering Kopp’s remarks, it is not surprising that, according to RFF Forum attendee Dr. Alan Carlin -- former EPA senior analyst and manager, and past chairman of the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club -- “RFF went all out to prevent me from handing out my comments and to keep out any skeptical comments from the Q&A.”

So much for RFF’s claim to not be “cheerleaders for any particular policy or point of view.”

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EPA Misrepresents Climate Science

McCarthy started the climate change part of her presentation with a politically correct assertion:

Climate change is one of the most important issues that we face. It is a global challenge but, in many ways, it’s also very personal to all of us because it affects everything and everyone we know and we love.

Climate change is, of course, a regional challenge, not a global one.

There is no super being straddling the planet, experiencing global trends. All that matters is what is happening -- increases or decreases in the incidence of floods and droughts, heat waves and cold spells, and so on -- in regions where people, plants, and animals are found. For example, what sense would it make for a community to prepare for a global sea level rise if, in that particular region, sea level was falling?

New Zealand-based renewable energy consultant Bryan Leyland pointed out:

Climate change has been a problem to mankind for hundreds of thousands of years. But we survived the last ice age, compared with which, the recent change in climate is but a minor wiggle. The greatest climate risk we face at the moment is a high probability that we are entering a period of cooling comparable to the Little Ice Age.

Many scientists agree with Leyland. For example, Dr. Howard Hayden, emeritus professor of physics at the University of Connecticut, explained:

The Earth is on a descent into the next 100,000-year ice age. For the moment, the glaciers seem to be in retreat, but they are not remnants of the last ice age. They have been growing during the last 8,000 years.

High-resolution spectroscopy specialist Dr. John Nicol, former senior lecturer of physics and dean of science at James Cook University in Australia, elaborated:

Since 1997, the Earth has not warmed but has, in fact, very slightly cooled even though atmospheric CO2 levels have been increasing. McCarthy’s assertion that climate change is “very personal to all of us” clearly demonstrates her emotional rather than the scientific approach to this non-issue.

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Gina McCarthy next said:

By now we all know that climate change is driven in large part by carbon pollution and it leads to more extreme heat, cold, storms, fires, and floods.

Referring to carbon dioxide (CO2) as “carbon pollution” is one of the most common rhetorical tricks employed by the Obama administration. In the EPA’s news release announcing the CPP, they referenced “carbon pollution” five times in the release’s first four sentences.

Calling the gas “carbon” encourages the public to think of it as something dirty, like graphite or soot -- which really are carbon.

Calling CO2 by its proper name would help the public remember that it is a non-toxic, odorless, invisible gas essential to plant photosynthesis. It is no more pollution than is water vapor, by far the principal greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. The EPA website is riddled with this “carbon” deception.

Leyland replied to the EPA chief:

It is shocking that McCarthy does not understand the difference between carbon dioxide -- a harmless gas that benefits agriculture -- and genuine pollutants like particulates, sulphur dioxide and the like emitted from old obsolete power stations. Modern coal-fired stations do not emit these pollutants.

McCarthy is not fit to head the EPA if she doesn’t know such basic science. Regardless, neither theory nor observations support the EPA chief’s claim that CO2 rise causes “more extreme heat, cold, storms, fires and floods.” Hyderabad, India-based Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy -- formerly chief technical advisor for the UN World Meteorological Organization and author of Climate Change - Myths & Realities -- said that McCarthy’s statement is “not true”:

Extreme heat, cold, storms and floods are part of natural variation. These are modified by local general circulation patterns existing over different parts of the globe over different seasons.

Nicol also contested McCarthy’s assertion:

Not only is the claim that CO2 is to blame [for increases in extreme weather] wrong, but the contradictory statements regarding these weather events, which are NO different from those of 200 years ago, demonstrates the desperation of lobby groups trying to maintain this myth.

If the world were to warm appreciably due to increasing CO2 emissions, temperatures at high latitudes are forecast to rise the most, reducing the difference between arctic and tropical temperatures. Since this differential drives weather, we should see weaker midlatitude cyclones in a warmer world -- and thus fewer extremes in weather, not more.

Indeed, the lack of extreme weather increase with global warming is one of the few areas of agreement between the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). In 2012, the IPCC asserted that a relationship between global warming and wildfires, rainfall, storms, hurricanes, and other extreme weather events has not been demonstrated. In their latest assessment report (Sep 2013), IPCC scientists concluded that they had only “low confidence” that “damaging increases will occur in either drought or tropical cyclone activity” as a result of global warming.

The Sep 2013 NIPCC report concluded the same, asserting:

In no case has a convincing relationship been established between warming over the past 100 years and increases in any of these extreme events.

NIPCC report chapter lead author Dr. Timothy Ball, environmental consultant and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg, explained that the EPA is taking the approach that American journalist Farhad Manjoo identified in his book True Enough: Learning To Live in a Post-Fact Society:

You create your theory then hire experts. The EPA agenda is political, not scientific.