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More on EPA’s Climate Science Problem: The Peabody Petition

By Chip Knappenberger -- February 22, 2010

In my last post, I pointed out a problem with the EPA’s major finding that:

Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG [greenhouse gas] concentrations.

I showed that it could be reasonably and straightforwardly argued that less than half of the warming since 1950 contained in the “observed” global temperature history can be attributed to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. This is bad for the EPA, as this finding was simply parroted by the EPA from the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4)—a report relied on heavily by the EPA in underpinning its Endangerment Finding (that greenhouse gases released by human activities “threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.”). When the IPCC is wrong, so is the EPA.

Another new problem with the IPCC’s AR4 was reported earlier this week. This one involved the IPCC’s reliance on a book chapter instead of the peer-reviewed literature to conclude that sea ice extent around Antarctica had changed little since the late 1970s. In fact, it is well-established in the scientific literature, dating both prior to and subsequent from the production of the AR4, that there has been a statistically significant increase in the extent of sea ice in the Antarctic. That the IPCC AR4 projects Antarctic sea ice declines to accompany global warming, it is little wonder why the IPCC AR4 Chapter 4 authors wanted to downplay the actual behavior of Antarctic sea ice.

The Antarctic sea ice problem adds to an ever growing list of problems uncovered recently (since the EPA’s Endangerment Finding) that exist within the IPCC AR4 reports. Other errors involve IPCC findings on Himalayan glaciers, Amazon rainforests, African agriculture, Dutch geography, attribution of extreme weather damages, and several others.

And none of these problems have been exposed as a result of the Climategate email release. Well, maybe as a general result of the heightened nature of inquisitiveness that the Climategate emails evidenced as being warranted, but not as a direct result of the content of the any particular email.

But, don’t let this leave you thinking that the Climategate emails are just much ado about nothing, as many IPCC apologists would like you to believe. Far from it.

In fact, the contents of the Climategate emails reveal that the problems with the IPCC run very deep. Which means that the problems for the EPA run very deep as well.

Just how deep are laid out in great detail by a series of petitions that have been filed with the EPA requesting them to reconsider their Endangerment Finding.

Some of these Petitions were highlighted in the pages of MasterResource recently in a post by Tom Tanton. Another, and one which goes into over 200 pages of gory detail, was submitted by Peabody Energy, which bills itself as “the world’s largest private-sector coal company.”

As a teaser, here are some of the highlights (from the Company’s announcement):

• Peabody Energy today filed a detailed petition citing new information as a basis to urge the U.S. EPA to reconsider its claim that greenhouse gases endanger human health.

• Under the Clean Air Act, EPA’s “endangerment finding” could mean regulation of hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of buildings, farms, businesses and other facilities in the U.S.

• Peabody believes that EPA ignored its obligation to render sound judgment and conduct a rigorous review of science, instead relying almost exclusively on the work of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as a major basis for its recent endangerment finding.

• The IPCC is an international body whose work is not subject to U.S. data quality standards or consistently peer reviewed.

• Compounding this error, EPA outsourced its scientific obligations to an agency whose work has since been shown to be deeply tainted by flaws, in light of multiple instances of errors, manipulated data and gaps in information that make conclusions unreliable. It is clear that the intent of some was to shape a report to satisfy an agenda that is political and not scientific.

• Given the seriousness of the flaws by the IPCC, relied upon by EPA, the immediacy of draconian regulation is unwarranted. There is no sufficient basis to implement regulations that would harm a fragile economy, further suppress investment and raise energy costs for Americans. The agency needs to step back and begin a thorough review of the real state of scientific understanding of greenhouse gases.

• To the extent that long-term concern regarding greenhouse gas emissions still validly exists, climate change is at worst a long-term challenge – not the immediate crisis that has been conveyed. There is ample time to develop low-emissions technologies such as carbon capture and storage, which global agencies and multiple nations believe are essential for meeting long-term carbon goals.

• This supplements Peabody’s original objections to the finding, which ignores the many societal benefits from coal use in helping people live longer and better, while focusing only on perceived costs. Peabody continues to believe that coal use is essential for U.S. economic growth and the advancement of human development around the world. Coal is the fastest growing fuel in the world and global coal demand is expected to increase more than 1.5 times faster than the combined growth rate of oil, natural gas, nuclear and renewables.

The full Peabody Petition is well worth a careful read. If you take the time, what you’ll find will be eye-opening. The level of “taint” shown to be in the IPCC process is truly immense. It is hard to figure how the EPA is going to get out from under this.


  1. Billy The Clown  

    How will the EPA get out of this? Like any good political agency, by ignoring it!


  2. Chris  

    I read Lisa Jackson will be appearing this week before Congress regarding appropriation. Let the fireworks begin.


  3. Bob  

    The EPA has a long proud history of ignoring real science and basing its decisions on political science. Anyone who doubts the EPA will not ignore real science has never done much in complying with EPA regulations.


  4. Artesian  

    The EPA was populated with activists when it was founded on the first Earth Day.


  5. Aaron Huertas  

    You can cherry-pick all you want, but these links from CRU to IPCC to EPA are tenuous at best. Please see below from my organization, thought I suspect the audience at Master Resource probably does not care.

    From http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/lawsuits-against-epa-climate-science-0355.html

    Some of the challenges are based on the erroneous assumption that the EPA based its finding solely on IPCC reports. A review of the agency’s “Technical Support Document for the Findings” (pdf) shows that it drew on scientific data from a number of institutions, including: the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the non-profit research organization, CNA Corporation, IPCC, National Aeronautical and Space Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Research Council, National Snow and Ice Data Center, NOAA National Climatic Data Center, U.S. Climate Change Science Program, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and U.S. Navy.


  6. Jack  

    All the agencies you listed gave their data to the IPCC — the IPCC data stemmed from them.


  7. Rich  

    Don’t know if this proves anything, but – A common picture on the front page of the newspaper back in the “Cold War” (no pun intended) was that of a US submarine at the North Pole. Well, some of those pictures were NOT taken at the North Pole because there was NO ice there! If you are going to brag about being at the North Pole, you have to have ice, thus the picture was taken where ther was ice. We were told that the ice cap floated around and sometimes the sub was out of luck and there was no ice.


  8. Monday Meltdown: March 1st 2010 « The Daily Bayonet  

    […] EPA is facing legal heat for its silly ruling that CO2 is a dangerous pollutant: Peabody believes that EPA ignored its […]


  9. Aaron Huertas  

    Jack, I’m not sure what you’re saying. While they reference one another and reference similar papers, they’re still separate assessments. They were also produced at different times.

    In any case, where is the case that this undermines the public health conclusions? All I’ve seen are weak hand-waving accusations against the science and nothing that directly undercuts the science in the endangerment finding.



  10. PeterB in Indianapolis  

    Then you have not been looking very hard or very critically Aaron.

    “Science” in which the conclusion is assumed and then the data are ginned up and the analyses are rigged in order to support the assumed conclusion is not science.

    Read more on the philosophy of science and the scientific method, and then go back over some of these “studies” and critically evaluate for yourself whether they were indeed science or not. You might be shocked.


  11. will the underwear bomber end a presidency? - Page 79 - Koi Forum - Koi-Bito Magazine straight from Japan  

    […] sea ice is, unfortunately, not an isolated incident in the IPCC reports, but is simply one of many examples in which portions of the peer-reviewed scientific literature were cast aside, or ignored, so that a […]


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