September 30, 2011

AP Whitewashes EPA’s Lawless Failure to Follow Review Protocol in GHG Finding, Throws in AGW ‘Overwhelming Consensus’ Claim

On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Inspector General issued a report on the agency’s “compliance with established policy and procedures” in connection with its “Greenhouse Gases Endangerment Finding.” This was the finding that “greenhouse gas,” or “GHG” emissions, including carbon dioxide, are in essence forms of air pollution, endanger public health, and must therefore be regulated.

As would sadly be expected, what the IG actually found and what the Associated Press’s Dina Cappiello reported about the IG’s findings sharply differ. Here’s what IG Arthur A. Elkins, Jr. wrote in his press statement:

… EPA did not certify whether it complied with OMB’s or its own peer review policies in either the proposed or final endangerment findings as required. While it may be debatable what impact, if any, this had on EPA’s finding, it is clear that EPA did not follow all required steps for a highly influential scientific assessment. …

… EPA disagreed with our conclusions and did not agree to take any corrective actions in response to this report. All the report’s recommendations are unresolved.

The IG’s “At a Glance” document tells us that the EPA blew off the need to engage in any further scientific study (bolds are mine throughout this post):

In our opinion, the TSD (Technical Support Document) was a highly influential scientific assessment because EPA weighed the strength of the available science by its choices of information, data, studies, and conclusions included in and excluded from the TSD. EPA officials told us they did not consider the TSD a highly influential scientific assessment. EPA noted that the TSD consisted only of science that was previously peer reviewed, and that these reviews were deemed adequate under the Agency’s policy. EPA had the TSD reviewed by a panel of 12 federal climate change scientists. This review did not meet all OMB requirements for peer review of a highly influential scientific assessment primarily because the review results and EPA’s response were not publicly reported, and because 1 of the 12 reviewers was an EPA employee.

no supporting documentation was available to show what analyses the Agency conducted prior to disseminating the information.

The idea that imposing greenhouse gas regulations on the entire economy based on a “scientific assessment” demonstrating some kind of harm isn’t “highly influential” is absurd on its face.

In essence, the IG said: “This was a big decision deserving rigorous study.” The EPA’s response, in essence: “It’s settled science. Bug off.”

The full 99-page report is here. A key point in the report is at Page 8, namely that the admitted failure by the EPA to follow the procedures required when “highly influential scientific assessments” are involved represents a violation of the 2000 Data Quality Act and the processes that were developed as a result of that act. In other words, the EPA broke the law.

That certainly isn’t how the AP’s Cappiello reported it. She turned “broke the law” into “cut corners.” In one of her earliest reports (produced in full because of its brevity), she also took the Al Gore-driven “the discussion is over” approach:

Report: EPA cut corners on climate finding

An internal government watchdog says that the Environmental Protection Agency cut corners when it produced a key scientific document underpinning its decision to regulate climate-changing pollution.

The Inspector General report, obtained by The Associated Press in advance of its release Wednesday, says the agency circumvented a more robust review process that was warranted for a technical paper supporting a costly and controversial decision to control greenhouse gases for the first time.

The EPA and White House disagreed with the report’s conclusions. They said the agency “reasonably interpreted” peer-review guidelines.

Nothing in the report challenges the overwhelming scientific consensus around the causes of global warming. But that’s unlikely to stop Republicans and industry lawyers from using it to say the Obama administration should not regulate greenhouse gases without Congressional action.

Note that the above rendition, time-stamped at 10:34 a.m. on Wednesday, was the probable basis for noontime radio and TV reports.

Apparently Cappiello or someone at AP felt that the “overwhelming scientific consensus” statement was a bit strong in one sense, but too vague in another. The expanded version of Cappiello’s report time-stamped at 4:58 p.m. Wednesday elaborated, and used it to make those who pointed out the obvious — that EPA didn’t do what it was legally required to do in the circumstances — look like outliers:

In 2010, a survey of more than 1,000 of the world’s most cited and published climate scientists found that 97% believe climate change is very likely caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

But by highlighting what it calls “procedural deviations,” the report provides ammunition to Republicans and industry lawyers fighting the Obama administration over its decision to use the 40-year-old Clean Air Act to fight global warming. While the Supreme Court said in 2007 that the act could be used to control greenhouse gases, the Republican-controlled House has passed legislation that would change that. The bill has so far been stymied by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Sen. James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who requested the investigation and one of Congress’ most vocal climate skeptics, said Wednesday the report confirmed that “the very foundation of President Obama’s job-destroying agenda was rushed, biased and flawed.”

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, another critic of EPA regulations, said the agency sacrificed scientific protocol for “political expediency.”

Here’s a translation of the first excerpted paragraph: “97% of those who are paid to do research whose continued funding depends heaving on coming up with conclusions that human-caused global warming is a problem agree that human-caused global warming is a problem.”

Well, I can match Ms. Cappiello’s 1,000 (actually 970) with more than 1,000 — the over 1,000 cited in a Climate Depot Special Report (321-page PDF):

This Climate Depot Special Report is not a “list” of scientists, but a report that includes full biographies of each scientist and their quotes, papers and links for further reading. The scientists featured in the report express their views in their own words, complete with their intended subtleties and caveats. This report features the names, biographies, academic/institutional affiliation, and quotes of literally hundreds of additional international scientists who publicly dissented from man-made climate fears. This report lists the scientists by name, country of residence, and academic/institutional affiliation. It also features their own words, biographies, and web links to their peer reviewed studies, scientific analyses and original source materials as gathered from directly from the scientists or from public statements, news outlets, and websites in 2007 and 2008.

The distinguished scientists featured in this new report are experts in diverse fields, including: climatology; geology; biology; glaciology; biogeography; meteorology; oceanography; economics; chemistry; mathematics; environmental sciences; astrophysics, engineering; physics and paleoclimatology. … Additionally, these scientists hail from prestigious institutions worldwide, including: Harvard University; NASA; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR); Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the UN IPCC; the Danish National Space Center; U.S. Department of Energy; Princeton University; the Environmental Protection Agency; University of Pennsylvania; Hebrew University of Jerusalem; the International Arctic Research Centre; the Pasteur Institute in Paris; Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute; the University of Helsinki; the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S., France, and Russia; the University of Pretoria; University of Notre Dame; Abo Akademi University in Finland; University of La Plata in Argentina; Stockholm University; Punjab University in India; University of Melbourne; Columbia University; the World Federation of Scientists; and the University of London.

The Climate Depot report also notes that “Only 52 Scientists Participated in UN IPCC Summary.” This is the 2007 report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which has been used as the basis for claiming that human-caused global warming is “settled science.” Some of the 52 participants are now among the identified dissenters.

The AP’s odiously pretentious report ultimately included contributions from Seth Borenstein, who infamously whitewashed the Climategate emails as no big deal (MSNBC’s’ headline: “Review: E-mails show pettiness, not fraud”). Items accumulated since the scandal first broke at NewsBusters emphatically demonstrate otherwise and cannot be wished away.

In regards to Cappiello’s current composition, two words: Settled, schmettled.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (093011)

Filed under: General — Tom @ 11:24 am

Rules are here.

Quotes of the Day: Jonah Goldberg on ‘Softness,’ and Joseph Kraft’s 1979 Indictment of … Obama

Filed under: Activism,Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:35 am

The reference is to President Obama’s Thursday evening interview with a local NBC affiliate in Orlando, where he claimed that America has “gotten a little soft”:

I mean, there are a lot of things we can do. The way I think about it is, you know, this is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft and, you know, we didn’t have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades. We need to get back on track.

There are many places to go with this stunning statement (given the source). I like Jonah Goldberg’s perspectives, particularly his final quip:

Seriously, in 2008 we elected a community organizer, state senator, college instructor first term senator over a guy who spent five years in a Vietnamese prison. And now he’s lecturing us about how America’s gone “soft”? Really?

The parallels to Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” are pretty obvious.

The great degree of parallel between Carter and Obama is also self-evident in the immediate reaction of columnist Joseph Kraft to Carter’s 1979 “Crisis of Confidence” speech found here:

CarterMalaiseJosephKraft1979

80% of what’s seen above could be written about Obama today, much of it more emphatically.

Let’s talk about someone whose position is “soft” and weak. Part of Carter’s 1979 self-resurrection strategy included firing much of his cabinet. Can you imagine the country’s reaction about our rudderless condition if Obama attempted a similar gambit?

The Higher Ed Bubble, and the Coming Student Loan Crackup

Filed under: Economy,Education,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:56 am

The Wall Street Journal, on yet another Obama administration-sponsored mess — student loans:

Washington’s Quietest Disaster
Student loan defaults are growing, and the worst is still to come.

When critics warned about rising defaults on government-backed student loans two years ago, the question was how quickly taxpayers would feel the pain. The U.S. Department of Education provided part of the answer this month when it reported that the default rate for fiscal 2009 surged to 8.8%, up from 7% in 2008.

This rising default rate doesn’t even tell the whole story. The government allows various “income contingent” and “income-based” repayment options, so the statistics don’t count kids who were given permission to pay less than they owed. Taxpayers shouldn’t expect relief any time soon.

… Universities have been efficient in pocketing the subsidies by increasing tuition after every expansion of federal support. That’s why education is a rare industry where prices have risen even faster than health-care costs.

This is also the rare market where the recent trend of de-leveraging doesn’t apply. An August report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that Americans cut their household debt from a peak of $12.5 trillion in the third quarter of 2008 to a recent $11.4 trillion. Consumers have reduced their debt on houses, cars, credit cards and nearly everything except student loans, where debt has increased 25% in the three years.

Perhaps this is because most federal student loans are made without regard to income, assets or credit history. Much like the federal obsession to finance a home for every American regardless of ability to pay, the obsession to finance higher education for every high school student ignores inconvenient facts. These include the certainty that some of these kids will take jobs that don’t require college degrees and may not support timely repayment.

Like almost every federal program one sees, one word applies: unsustainable, this time with a bitter twist, in the form of so many young people who borrowed $50,000 or more, only to learn that their degrees qualify them in the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) economy to drive cabs and dispense coffee. There’s nothing wrong and something noble about every job, so that’s not the point. The point is that kids and parents have been sold an expensive bill of goods by formerly affordable colleges who jacked up their rates far beyond what a normal market for education would ever have allowed, while the same politicians who enabled the situation messed up the economy to the point where the market for the services college grads could provide has seriously contracted.

I’m not optimistic that those affected understand why they are where they are, and who’s really responsible. “At least” the fact that the federal government nationalized the student loan business, by eliminating banks as the possible source of the blame, increases the chance that some will figure it out.

Positivity: 40 Days for Life Pro-Life Campaign Saving Lives Already

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Columbia, Missouri:

It’s just the first day of the 40 Days for Life campaign … and I’ve already got great news to share! Let’s get right to it.

The 40 Days for Life team in Columbia holds its vigils outside a Planned Parenthood center that is the only abortion location between St. Louis and Kansas City.

Last Thursday — less than a week before the start of the campaign — the abortionist quit!

This is not the first time this has happened. Planned Parenthood in Columbia has gone through six different abortionists during the past two and a half years — and this facility has gone months at a time with NO ABORTIONS — including times DURING 40 Days for Life campaigns.

“Praise the Lord!” said Kathy in Columbia. “We know that God will do many miracles these 40 days!”

Planned Parenthood is referring women to its facility in St. Louis, so the prayers will continue in Columbia — and in St. Louis as well.

Go here for the rest of the story.