A Shaky Petition to Have the EPA to Set Limits on Carbon Dioxide

A few environmental groups today made a bid to use government regulation to achieve essentially political ends of reshaping the economy.  It’s a horrible power play to turn the already imperial EPA into the mightiest jobs-killing agency in the history of the United States, but to be expected. If you can’t achieve your goals through the policymaking branch of government, turn to the regulators.

Still, you would think the Climategate scandal sending shock waves through the scientist/activist/political/space-time/continuum would have given these groups pause. They’re building their case on shaky grounds.

From “EPA Petitioned to Cap Carbon Dioxide Pollution at 350 Parts Per Million Under the Clean Air Act“:

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity and 350.org today petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to set national limits for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas pollution under the Clean Air Act. The petition seeks to have greenhouse gases designated as “criteria” air pollutants and atmospheric CO2 capped at 350 parts per million (ppm), the level leading scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.

From page 9 of the petition:

Authoritative synthesis reports and data sources which should form the foundation of the Section 108 endangerment finding include but are not limited to the following:
The Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act, 74 Fed. Reg. 18886 (April 24, 2009) (hereinafter proposed Endangerment Finding);
The Technical Support Document for the Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act (April 17, 2009), Docket No. OAR-2009-0171;
The 2007 Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC AR4”);26 [Our emphasis]

But didn’t we just learn that the IPCC’s data rest heavily on the manipulated and politicized data from the Climatic Research Unit at East Anglia? As Declan McCullough wrote at a CBS News blog, covering the scientific scandal now called Climategate.

In global warming circles, the CRU wields outsize influence: it claims the world’s largest temperature data set, and its work and mathematical models were incorporated into the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report. That report, in turn, is what the Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged it “relies on most heavily” when concluding that carbon dioxide emissions endanger public health and should be regulated.

The petitioners seem aware of the threat to their case posed by Climategate. The footnote (26) to the IPCC citation (in extended entry below) makes painful effort to demonstrate the IPCC’s seriousness in producing the “standard works of reference on climate change.”

Which may be a big problem for the activists. See also:

The closed-mindedness of these supposed men of science, their willingness to go to any lengths to defend a preconceived message, is surprising even to me. The stink of intellectual corruption is overpowering. And, as Christopher Booker argues, this scandal is not at the margins of the politicised IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] process. It is not tangential to the policy prescriptions emanating from what David Henderson called the environmental policy milieu [subscription required]. It goes to the core of that process.

26 The IPCC was established by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme in 1988 to assess available scientific and socio-economic information on climate change and its impacts and the options for mitigating climate change and to provide, on request, scientific and technical advice to the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Since 1990, the IPCC has produced a series of reports, papers, methodologies, and other products that have become the standard works of reference on climate change. The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), cited as supporting evidence in the proposed Endangerment Finding, is the most current comprehensive IPCC reference and has built and expanded upon the IPCC’s past products. Thousands of the world’s top scientists and hundreds of coordinating lead authors contributed to the AR4, which also underwent a painstaking review process in which every comment received was addressed.

Each Summary for Policymakers in IPCC documents, including the AR4, is approved line-by-line, and the underlying chapters are then accepted, by government delegations in formal plenary sessions. The AR4 represents an extraordinary and unprecedented level of scientific effort and coordination, but is also therefore a highly conservative consensus document. Further information about the IPCC process and reports is available at http://www.ipcc.ch/about/procd.htm.

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