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Sen. James Inhofe and his demands to probe the EPA

Sen. James Inhofe (on left), seen here with Al Gore and Sen. Barbara Boxer, says global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.
REUTERS/Jim Young
Sen. James Inhofe (on left), seen here with Al Gore and Sen. Barbara Boxer, says global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has delayed issuing its climate change rules again. It had announced that it would release new greenhouse gas emission standards in July, but missed that deadline. It set a new one for Sept. 30. The EPA has announced it won't make that deadline either. Now I think I know why.


In an April, 2010, letter to the Office of the Inspector General of the EPA (OIG), the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., demanded an investigation of the agency's climate change rules and how they were determined. Today, the findings of that investigation were made public, and the EPA may have to go back to the drawing board. Climate-change skeptics will use the OIG's findings to further delay emissions restrictions on greenhouse gases.

The investigation surrounds the EPA's "endangerment finding." That finding, based on the body of evidence, said that the EPA could regulate greenhouse gases as pollutants under the Clean Air Act. The state of Massachusetts sued, and the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court. The conservative court ruled in favor of the EPA and found it had authority under the Clean Air Act to set limits on greenhouse gases. The only avenue left to opponents, then, was legislation. Republican members of Congress have been busy dismantling the Clean Air Act, and pushing to defang the EPA ever since.  

Sen. Inhofe took a different approach by demanding an investigation into how the EPA's finding was achieved. You might remember Inhofe as the senator who has said that global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people. What is often left unsaid is that Inhofe has received more than $1 million in campaign funds from a host of fossil-fuel producers and related industries since 1999.

Inhofe complained to the OIG that certain protocols were not followed, that there were conflicts of interest in the review, and that the EPA relied on outside scientific findings to reach its conclusion on the dangers of greenhouse gases. Inhofe's argument was that the EPA's findings were of such influence that it should have conducted its own peer-review process of all the science cited in the finding. You can read the 92-page OIG report here.

The senator and the EPA disagree on whether the "finding" was a Technical Support Document (TSD) or a Highly Influential Scientific Assessment (HISA), a conclusion requiring a much more stringent process of review. The Inspector General found the EPA's finding was the latter and required an additional level of peer-review.

Inhofe said today, in a press release: "This report confirms that the endangerment finding, the very foundation of President Obama's job-destroying regulatory agenda, was rushed, biased and flawed. It calls the scientific integrity of the EPA's decision-making process into question and undermines the credibility of the endangerment finding."

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) wrote the rules on transparency in government, and was also consulted by the OIG. For the most part, OMB found that the EPA had every reason to believe that its conclusions, drawn from thousands of peer-reviewed documents, was merely a statement of the existing science, meeting the much lower standard of a Technical Support Document and thus followed the law. The OIG concluded that the finding met the greater standard of a highly influential scientific paper because it "synthesized" some of the findings. The EPA said it rejects that conclusion.

The OIG's investigation will cause further delays in implementing the new greenhouse gas emission levels, and may even force EPA to conduct a new assessment which will take years to complete. That new assessment and endangerment finding will be argued in the courts, and someone in Congress will call for another investigation. Inhofe and his supporters are the winners in this contest, if holding off regulation of greenhouse gases was the point.

Francesca Grifo, senior scientist and director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Scientific Integrity Program, issued this statement today:

“The inspector general made it clear that EPA followed current guidelines for ensuring that it based its decision on robust scientific analysis. Nothing in this report questions the agency’s ability to move forward with global warming emissions rules.

“The process matters, but the science matters more and in this endangerment finding, the science is accurate. Climate change is a threat to public health and welfare, and the peer-reviewed scientific assessments the EPA used back up that claim. The agency has accepted the IG’s findings and is taking appropriate action.”

There will be forthcoming charges that the EPA is corrupt and cannot be trusted on issues of clean air and global warming. The investigation found no such thing, but that will not stop the spin. What the OIG found was that the EPA relied on peer-reviewed science, but failed to peer-review the peer-reviewed material. EPA didn't believe it had to, and the Office of Management and Budget, which wrote the rule book, said the EPA had fairly arrived at that conclusion.

Dr. Andrew Dessler, former senior policy analyst for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M. Dessler said: "This is a battle of lawyer versus lawyer. The issues here are not scientific. If we start taking scientific advice from lawyers, we are in deep trouble."

In the meantime, Sen. Inhofe may have found a tactic more powerful than legislation. He has found investigations and threats of investigations can have a chilling effect on public policy. The Inspector General's findings, which limit themselves to methodology rather than the underlying science on global warming, will nonetheless push EPA back onto its heels and garner Inhofe what he wants most, and that is no regulation of greenhouse gases.

Emboldened by this investigation, Inhofe called upon the Inspector General in August of this year to examine the manner in which the EPA reached its conclusion on ground-level ozone. The letter, by itself, may have been enough for President Obama to shelve his own ozone standards for two years.

Commentators said the president was caving into business pressures in a bad economy and turning on his environmentalist supporters. It may be just as likely that the president backed down on ozone for the same reason EPA has postponed announcing new standards under the "endangerment finding."

That reason, it seems, has a name. Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma — the U.S. Senate's top recipient of campaign contributions from the oil industry.

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Comments (30)

Imhofe is dancing for the ones what bought him.

Sen. Inhofe's shameful behavior is disgusting.

As is the GOP-led investigation into the financial workings of Planned Parenthood that I read about in today's PiPress.

What's keeping other journalists from making the points that Mr. Shelby made in his article, namely that the Senator's been bought by Big Oil?

Is it the pretense of objectivity? Because I don't think this falls under that category.

What we need is a Dem in the House or Senate, or the President himself, to call Sen. Inhofe out on this, in no uncertain terms.

But they won't, because that opens a Pandora's Box ... because they are all tainted by big-time contributors who have bought them out too.

Breaking news:

Global warming: New study challenges carbon benchmark

The new study, published in the science journal Nature, says the uptake could be 25-45 percent higher [than current warmer theory claims ~ed], to 150-175 gigatonnes per year.

http://news.yahoo.com/global-warming-study-challenges-carbon-benchmark-1...

Kudos to Sen. Inofe!

The longer people have to look at the AGW methodology, the more fecklessness and outright fraud will be uncovered behind the psuedoscience that warmers use to support this scam.

Well, if you can't win based on the science, you can always win with tactics of intimidation and bullying. Sic the OIG on them, that sounds right up Sen. Oil's alley. Of course, a decent person would be at least a little embarrassed at the good Senator's financial ties to Big Oil, but decency doesn't enter into this. He's merely serving those who paid for him and that, after all, is politics.

As for the one-sided coverage in most of the mainstream media, that neglect to mention the Senator's financial lifeline from Big Oil, that's what passes for journalism these days. What can one say, except that we have fallen far from the days of Walter Cronkite.

I do always chuckle when the denialists start slinging around the "fraud" charge. They never explain exactly what they think it is that the perpetrators (all around the world, in every college and university, in every scientific institution! Why, this is the mother of all conspiracies!) of the fraud get out of this. Well, who needs motivation? A sexy charge like "fraud" blinds enough of the audience that one can get away with the fiction.

I do so detest intellectual dishonesty. *sigh*

Mr. Swift, to be polite, is exercising what spinmeisters would call “a selection of facts.”

Here’s some more from that same article appearing on Yahoo!

“But relatively little of this extra carbon is likely to be stored permanently in the plant, say the researchers. Instead, it is likely to re-enter the atmosphere through plant respiration…

The implication from this is that CO2 is swiftly cycled through land ecosystems, the researchers suggest. From that assumption comes the far higher estimate of annual carbon uptake.”

So the study ACTUALLY suggests that the higher uptake is merely cycled back into the atmosphere, and quickly. It would seem, then, that “Kudos to Sen. Inofe!” are not only premature, they’re grotesquely unjustified.

Well, Mr. Swift, you should read beyond the headline. The study CONFIRMS the extent of carbon accumulation. The carbon dioxide uptake is a pass-through; the CO2 is rapidly re-released to the atmosphere.

What else don't you understand?

Good grief, Swift! The very next two sentences in the article you reference (rawstory.com) say:

"But relatively little of this extra carbon is likely to be stored permanently in the plant, say the researchers. Instead, it is likely to re-enter the atmosphere through plant respiration.

This will be a disappointment for those looking for some good news in the fight against climate change."

No fraud here but your selective quoting.

And the gist of the article is:

In the meantime, Sen. Inhofe may have found a tactic more powerful than legislation. He has found investigations and threats of investigations can have a chilling effect on public policy.

So content doesn't matter does it swift. It's just the threat. Bullying at it's worst. And it maybe the same reason that side of the spectrum is so so against anti bullying legislation. It's primary weapon would be off the table of honest conversation. Good thing there is no second amendment protect these gross tactics.

More than a bit disingenuous, Mr. Swift, when the balance of the article you cite goes on to say:

This will be a disappointment for those looking for some good news in the fight against climate change.

* * *

Scientists, though, were confident about current estimates for carbon sequestration in land and this was unlikely to change much in the light of the new findings, she said.

"More CO2 is passing through plants (than thought), not that it actually stays there very long," she said in email exchange with AFP.

"The extra CO2 taken up as photosynthesis is most likely returned right back to the atmosphere via respiration."

* * *

The implication from this is that CO2 is swiftly cycled through land ecosystems, the researchers suggest. From that assumption comes the far higher estimate of annual carbon uptake.

The idea of a global wide fraud on the subject of global warming is indeed mysterious. There is no driving reason to perpetuate it. Somehow conservatives seem to think the data is massaged so researchers can perpetuate their own activities, that they engage in this solely as a way to bilk the government out of money. As the driving force behind this "fraud" that is preposterous. Looking beyond this tactic it is the the expressed intention of new conservatives to rid our country and the globe of any environmental regulations. Somehow they inhibit our "liberty". Without them, our national symbol of liberty, the eagle, would be extinct (DDT), our rivers would be flammable and every old age stand of Redwoods would be cut. Environmental laws and regulations benefit all Americans. Inhofe's efforts are not on behalf of the public, they are on behalf of polluting corporations.

It would be great to see a market-based system that would efficiently protect the environment. But let's face it, the current Congress is not about to produce one. So left to choose between the internal controls of corporations and the EPA to protect my health, I'll take the EPA any day of the week.

Tsk, tsk. I'm dissapointed in all you global warming experts.

The sentences you're touting are *commentary* from Yahoo...which is a big supporter of warming.

How about we let the report speak for itself, science fans? (If you have a subscription you can read the whole thing)

"Our analysis suggests that current estimates of 120 petagrams of carbon per year(7), may be too low, and that a best guess of 150–175 petagrams of carbon per year better reflects the observed rapid cycling of CO2."

Think about it science fans, what happens when plants respirate CO2?

The ones here on Earth exhale O2. Right?

Unless warming psuedoscientists are preparing to revise the biology, what that means is (again, from the report)...

"Although still tentative, such a revision would present a new benchmark by which to evaluate global biospheric carbon cycling models."

New benchmark. New benchmark. New benchmark.

Get it? That means the computer models psuedoscientists are leading warmers around by the nose with are innaccurate; they're wrong; they need to be done again.

Man, I bet the e-mails are *flying* out of East Anglia! LOL!

Mr. Swift,
Here is the same story reported by the conservative newspaper, the Australian. It is owned by Rupert Murdoch. You may find the reporting helpful, and as an obvious counterbalance to the perceived liberal bias you suggest exists at Yahoo. As other posters have pointed out, even this conservative take says the findings are only helpful, but will not change warming predictions because the plants will eventually give up in the biological process, the CO2 that the plants have sequestered, at a higher rate. If you are looking for a coffin nail, this isn't it.
Don Shelby

@#12 Swift
Ugh! The sentence you "quote" is incomplete. Was this intentional? I think it was. What you put in your post was this:
"Our analysis suggests that current estimates of 120 petagrams of carbon per year(7), may be too low, and that a best guess of 150–175 petagrams of carbon per year better reflects the observed rapid cycling of CO2."

What it actually says is this:
"Our analysis suggests that current estimates of global gross primary production, of 120 petagrams of carbon per year, may be too low, and that a best guess of 150–175 petagrams of carbon per year better reflects the observed rapid cycling of CO2."

Simply, the article ACTUALLY states that we have underestimated our PRODUCTION of carbon by 30-55 petagrams...that's 30-55 BILLION tons.

Further, you're wrong about plant respiration. Plant PHOTOSYNTHESIS produces oxygen and carbohydrates. Plant RESPIRATION uses oxygen to break down carbohydrates for energy and produces CARBON DIOXIDE.

So, a plant releases carbon dioxide by respiration. They also release carbon dioxide when they die. They also release carbon dioxide when they're burned.

That means the NEW BENCHMARK is only a NEW BENCHMARK for the RATE of CARBON recycling, NOT that global warming doesn't exist. The pseudoscience is all yours, here.

Thomas Swift (#3): The study you cite has few implications for manmade global warming and certainly does not disprove it.

Did you even read the article you linked to? It says this:

"But relatively little of this extra carbon is likely to be stored permanently in the plant, say the researchers. Instead, it is likely to re-enter the atmosphere through plant respiration.

"This will be a disappointment for those looking for some good news in the fight against climate change."

Thomas Swift #12: The article itself refutes your claim, not comments on the article. So do the quotes from the researcher.

"If you are looking for a coffin nail, this isn't it."

Didn't say it was, Don...It's a new benchmark, as I repeated three times. New benchmarks require new anaylisis, new anaylisis requires time. Time is what Sen. Inofe is providing.

Kudos to the Senator!

@#17
Repeating a word doesn't make it any more relevant to the issue at hand. The new benchmark, benchmark, benchmark does not impact the fact that we're putting carbon into the atmosphere at a rate much faster than anything currently residing on this planet can remove it. The benchmark, benchmark, benchmark you are so happily flogging does not change the fact that Inhofe is crooked, wrong, and devious.

If a new benchmark, benchmark, benchmark makes it necessary to further procrastinate on fixing any problem with any relationship to it, you had better hope that if you ever get a life-threatening disease, there hasn't recently been a new benchmark, benchmark, benchmark related to it in any way, shape, or form.

I'm impressed by the quality of readers this article has attracted and the comments. Kudos to Shelby. He's set a new benchmark in reader participation on Minnpost.

Mr. Swift, you'll never understand science until you stop confusing your own faith with the concept of science.

Thanks for your concern Rachel, but it looks like most the snake-oil salesmen have dumped the miracle cure racket for the global warming biz these days...well there's chiropractors, but that's another story.

@#20
Don't worry that I might be concerned. I'm not.

It seems ironic, though, that the person who:

1. Conveniently left a sentence out of a Yahoo! article that contradicted his views on both global warming and a magic benchmark, benchmark, benchmark (which maybe could have been considered a mistake by someone not inclined to read further than the one sentence that SEEMED to support his view), and THEN
2. Actually removed several words from WITHIN another sentence pulled from the abstract of a scientific article published in Nature in order to completely change the meaning of the sentence, and thereby supposedly support his view (hard to overlook considering that you'd actually have to copy, then paste, THEN remove the wording--almost certainly not a mistake)

should be worried about snake oil salesmanship.

Geez! Mr. Quick! Read the article more thoroughly. The abstract from which you got your data (nature.com) is just that.

"More CO2 is passing through plants (than thought), not that it actually stays there very long," she (Lisa Welp, Lead Scientist) said in email exchange with AFP.

"The extra CO2 taken up as photosynthesis is most likely returned right back to the atmosphere via respiration."

This data is also dependent upon the presence of El Nino. As a result, even the lead scientist says these results in the long run are negligible.

Again, one more time, we are waiting for you to debunk the bulk of the climate data that indicates warming.

Your single, "tentative" studies add up to very little.

Ah, Mr. Quick! Rachel catches you red-handed and all you can do is retreat into conservative talking points--which is Sen. Inhofe's only contribution to the debate.

At least you make this fun, kinda sad, but fun. Mr. Quick!

@21
I believe it's called "Swift Boating Climate Change"

The concept of intellectual integrity comes into play here. It's not about believing or knowing you're right, it's about caring whether you're right or wrong. If you skip he "caring" part, you end up with the high school debate tactics of Mr. Swift,Inhofe, and Backmann, and of course you're left with no intellectual integrity. Science requires a basic level of intellectual integrity, that's actually why there's a consensus on climate change. Many scientists were skeptical at first, but because they cared whether they were right or wrong, they considered the evidence over time and became convinced.

It's impossible to consider evidence if you don't have the requisite level of integrity. Someone here has demonstrated that fact in perfect form. You put an article in front of some people and they literally are incapable of reading it because they don't actually care what it says.

Don,

"What is often left unsaid is that Inhofe has received more than $1 million in campaign funds from a host of fossil-fuel producers and related industries since 1999."

I am shocked, shocked to find that campaign donations are going on in Washinton.

According to NPR Obama is expected to raise at least $1 billion for his re-election campaign.

The U.S. Department of Energy said it plans to push ahead with as much as $5.3 billion in potential additional alternative energy loans by Friday, despite Republican complaints the money is going out too quickly to untested firms.

The DOE has made seven conditional commitments for additional funding by the time the loan guarantee legally expires on Sept. 30. So far, it has made 23 loans totaling $11.2 billion, said a spokesman.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/44723203

Nancy Pelosi's brother-in-law is the number two investor in Tonopah Solar Energy, recient recipient of a $737 million government loan.

Solyndra was in terrible financial shape and still received $535 million government loan and recently laid off 1,100 workers and filed for bankruptcy.

According to ABC News Oklahoma billionaire George Kaiser was a lead private investor in Solyndra and served as an Obama bundler during the 2008 campaign.

The US Government has spent $79 billion of taxpayers' money from 1989 to 2008 according to the Science and Public Policy Institute.

The Catatrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change community distorts the science towards a self-serving alarmism. Billions of dollars are spent on policies including science and technology research, administration, propoganda campaigns, foreign aid, subsidies and tax breaks.

Carbon trading made Algore a multi-millionaire and reached $126 billion in 2008, while Big Banks profited in this commodity.

Don you are right to follow the money, but follow the BIG MONEY of the alarmists.

Speaking of integrity, global climate change is not a political phenomena, it's climate phenomena. Climate change is not cause by campaign contributions. Pointing out that Democrats pay for campaigns the same way Republicans do is trivial and irrelevant.

People who excuse bad behavior by pointing out someone eleses bad behavior (real or imagined) Have not sense of integrity. This is particularly ironic when such arguments come from people who claim to be championing "values" as a general rule.

@#26
Your argument would make sense if you could follow that money to the pockets of so many of the climatologists that produce the data. The problem is, you can't. The data is the data. It is prudent to prepare for, and possibly try to prevent or slow, the advent of a climate vastly different than the one that this country was founded in.

Another well written Shelby article.

Oh look!

Obama was the biggest recipient of BP oil money in the last 20 years...

"Obama biggest recipient of BP cash"

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0510/36783.html

Green energy sources are currently "not viable". Even Al Gore has bailed on ethanol.