WASHINGTON, DC, July 29, 2010 (ENS) - The Environmental Protection Agency today turned back 10 petitions from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Commonwealth of Virginia, Peabody Coal and others that asked the agency to rescind its scientific finding that heat-trapping greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare.
In December 2009 the EPA determined that climate change is real, is occurring due to emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities, and threatens human health and the environment. This determination triggers the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.
The petitions to reconsider EPA's Endangerment Finding claim that climate science cannot be trusted, and assert a conspiracy that invalidates the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program.
"After months of serious consideration of the petitions and of the state of climate change science," the agency said today that it can find "no evidence" to support these claims.
By contrast, EPA's review shows that "climate science is credible, compelling, and growing stronger."
"The endangerment finding is based on years of science from the U.S. and around the world. These petitions, based as they are on selectively edited, out-of-context data and a manufactured controversy, provide no evidence to undermine our determination. Excess greenhouse gases are a threat to our health and welfare," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
Greenhouse gases rise from Arizona's Apache power plant, which is fueled with coal and natural gas. (Photo by Lance and Erin)
The scientific evidence supporting EPA's finding is "robust, voluminous, and compelling," the agency asserts on its website.
"Climate change is happening now, and humans are contributing to it," the EPA states. "Multiple lines of evidence show a global warming trend over the past 100 years. Beyond this, melting ice in the Arctic, melting glaciers around the world, increasing ocean temperatures, rising sea levels, altered precipitation patterns, and shifting patterns of ecosystems and wildlife habitats all confirm that our climate is changing."
But Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, today said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce intends to appeal the EPA's denial of its petition.
"The U.S. Chamber, policymakers, numerous trade groups, state governments, and businesses throughout the country have collectively raised strong concerns about the significant negative impact EPA's endangerment finding will have on jobs and local economies," said Conrad.
"We are deeply disappointed with the EPA's failure to reconsider its flawed decision to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. We intend to appeal the ruling."
"Defenders of the status quo will try to slow our efforts to get America running on clean energy. A better solution would be to join the vast majority of the American people who want to see more green jobs, more clean energy innovation and an end to the oil addiction that pollutes our planet and jeopardizes our national security," Jackson said.
The nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists says the EPA made the right decision based on science.
"The EPA's decision to reject these claims is backed by decades of research and on-the-ground observations, including from more than 7,000 weather stations that take air temperatures around the world," said UCS President Kevin Knobloch. "Pronounced warming has occurred over the last 30 years, and the last decade has been the hottest in 130 years of recordkeeping."
"Anyone who sweltered through the recent heat waves can attest to the fact that extreme temperatures are a threat to human health," Knobloch said. "If we don't swiftly and deeply reduce our emissions, heat waves are likely to occur more often and be more severe, eventually making these temperatures commonplace in summer."
"Heat waves already have led to an increase in heat-related deaths and sicknesses, especially among the poor, children and the elderly, and this trend is likely to get worse," he warned.
The petitioners say that emails disclosed from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit provide evidence of a conspiracy to manipulate global temperature data.
The EPA responds that its review of every one of these emails found "this was simply a candid discussion of scientists working through issues that arise in compiling and presenting large complex data sets." Four other independent reviews came to similar conclusions.
The petitioners say that errors in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, issued in 2007, call the entire body of work into question.
The EPA reponds that of the alleged errors, EPA confirmed only two in a 3,000 page report. The first pertains to the rate of Himalayan glacier melt and second to the percentage of the Netherlands below sea level. IPCC issued correction statements for both of these errors.
The errors have no bearing on Administrator Jackson's endangerment decision. None of the errors undermines the basic facts that the climate is changing in ways that threaten our health and welfare.
The petitioners say that because certain studies were not included in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, the IPCC itself is biased and cannot be trusted as a source of reliable information.
The EPA responds that these claims are "incorrect." In fact, the agency says, "the studies in question were included in the IPCC report, which provided a comprehensive and balanced discussion of climate science."
Finally, the petitioners say that new scientific studies refute evidence supporting the Endangerment Finding.
But the EPA responds that the petitioners "misinterpreted" the results of these studies. Contrary to their claims, many of the papers they submit as evidence are consistent with EPA's endangerment finding.
"Other studies submitted by the petitioners were based on unsound methodologies," the agency says. Detailed discussion of these issues are found in Volume One of the response to petition documents, on EPA's website at: http://epa.gov/climatechange/endangerment/petitions.html.