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EPA comes under fire for climate finding

EPA.lisa.jackson.pngIt’s not as if President Barack Obama needed any more trouble with his beleaguered climate agenda, but so it goes. The US Environmental Protection Agency’s internal watchdog released a report Wednesday alleging that the agency cut some corners in producing its 2009 “”http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090417/full/news.2009.374.html">endangerment finding", which formally declares that global warming endangers human health and welfare (Bloomberg Businessweek).

The shortcomings alleged by the Office of Inspector General – that one of EPA’s 12 peer reviewers worked for the EPA and that the results of the peer review were not made public – are hardly earth shattering, but that hardly matters. Republican critics of the EPA are already finding plenty of ammunition to advance their agenda.

The endangerment finding is, of course, the basis for any and all greenhouse gas regulations that the administration might seek to impose (background here). And now that climate is formally off of the legislative agenda, this authority is the administration’s only tool for going directly after greenhouse gas emissions.

“This report confirms that the endangerment finding, the very foundation of President Obama’s job-destroying regulatory agenda, was rushed, biased, and flawed," James Inhofe, longtime skeptic and ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a prepared statement. Inhofe requested the investigation.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (top right) and her embattled agency fought back on Wednesday, countering critics, press reports and the Inspector General’s report. Following is an excerpt from EPA’s statement, available in full here:

“The report does not question or even address the science used or the conclusions reached – by EPA under this and the previous administration – that greenhouse gas pollution poses a threat to the health and welfare of the American people. Instead, the report is focused on questions of process and procedure. While EPA will consider the specific recommendations, we disagree strongly with the Inspector General’s findings and followed all the appropriate guidance in preparing this finding.”

It’s not exactly clear how things could get worse, at least until after the elections in 2012, but one never knows.

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