Sunday, June 28, 2009
E-mails indicate EPA suppressed report skeptical of global warming
The Environmental Protection Agency may have suppressed an internal report that was skeptical of claims about global warming, including whether carbon dioxide must be strictly regulated by the federal government, according to a series of newly disclosed e-mail messages.
Less than two weeks before the agency formally submitted its pro-regulation recommendation to the White House, an EPA center director quashed a 98-page report that warned against making hasty "decisions based on a scientific hypothesis that does not appear to explain most of the available data."
The EPA official, Al McGartland, said in an e-mail message (PDF) to a staff researcher on March 17: "The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward...and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision."
The e-mail correspondence raises questions about political interference in what was supposed to be an independent review process inside a federal agency--and echoes criticisms of the EPA under the Bush administration, which was accused of suppressing a pro-climate change document.
Alan Carlin, the primary author of the 98-page EPA report, said in a telephone interview on Friday that his boss, McGartland, was being pressured himself. "It was his view that he either lost his job or he got me working on something else," Carlin said. "That was obviously coming from higher levels."
E-mail messages released this week show that Carlin was ordered not to "have any direct communication" with anyone outside his small group at EPA on the topic of climate change, and was informed that his report would not be shared with the agency group working on the topic.
"I was told for probably the first time in I don't know how many years exactly what I was to work on," said Carlin, a 38-year veteran of the EPA. "And it was not to work on climate change." One e-mail orders him to update a grants database instead. ...
...Carlin has an undergraduate degree in physics from CalTech and a PhD in economics from MIT. His Web site lists papers about the environment and public policy dating back to 1964, spanning topics from pollution control to environmentally-responsible energy pricing.
After reviewing the scientific literature that the EPA is relying on, Carlin said, he concluded that it was at least three years out of date and did not reflect the latest research. "My personal view is that there is not currently any reason to regulate (carbon dioxide)," he said. "There may be in the future. But global temperatures are roughly where they were in the mid-20th century. They're not going up, and if anything they're going down."
Carlin's report listed a number of recent developments he said the EPA did not consider, including that global temperatures have declined for 11 years; that new research predicts Atlantic hurricanes will be unaffected; that there's "little evidence" that Greenland is shedding ice at expected levels; and that solar radiation has the largest single effect on the earth's temperature. ...