Author: Luke A. Wake
In February, Pacific Legal Foundation filed a petition for reconsideration of EPA's Endangerment Finding for green house gases, which lays the ground work for federal regulation of those gases under the Clean Air Act. Our petition argued that EPA failed to submit global warming data for independent review with the Science Advisory Board (SAB), as required by law. SAB review was necessary in light of substantial questions over the validity of data relied upon in the Endangerment Finding, especially in light of public concerns over the possibility of data tampering at the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU). Since EPA relied upon some of CRU's data in the promulgation of the Endangerment Finding, we argued that SAB review was necessary in order to give an assurance of credibility and reliability to its final decision.
According to CNN, an independent British report has "cleared" the scientists involved in the supposed tampering of CRU data from any finding of dishonesty; however, it remains evident that EPA failed to submit data relied upon in its promulgation of the Endangerment Finding to the SAB. Whether or not public suspicions of data tampering are to be confirmed or invalidated, it remains true that substantial questions over the quality and reliability of data used in the Endangerment Finding existed at the time EPA finalized its decision. As such, PLF's contention that the data should have been reviewed by SAB remains valid. Only such independent review could have given the public a satisfactory assurance of validity and reliability.
More fundamentally, PLF's contentions emphasize the importance of requiring EPA – and other government agencies – to abide by established procedures. This is just as important when dealing with global warming related issues as it is with any environmental issue, or with any other regulatory matter. Such procedures both encourage open and transparent government, and ensure that administrative decisions are made only after thorough and carefully reasoned consideration.
EPA is expected to reply to PLF's petition for reconsideration at the end of the month.