The EPA apparently doesn’t care about any negative comment of their GHG Endangerment findings, even internally, so the exercise in Democracy we did yesterday apparently was for naught.
“The time for such discussion of fundamental issues has passed for this round. The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision… I can only see one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office.”
– Internal EPA email, March 17th, 2009
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has caught EPA administration red-handed in concealment of internal dissent as well as apparently proceeding with plans in advance.
From this PDF circulated today by CEI, here are the points:
EI is submitting a set of four EPA emails, dated March 12-17, 2009, which indicate that a significant internal critique of EPA’s position on Endangerment was essentially put under wraps and concealed. The study was barred from being circulated within EPA, it was never disclosed to the public, and it was not placed in the docket of this proceeding. The emails further show that the study was treated in this manner not because of any problem with its quality, but for political reasons.
CEI hereby requests that EPA make this study public, place it into the docket, and either extend or reopen the comment period to allow public response to this new study. We also request that EPA publicly declare that it will engage in no reprisals against the author of the study, who has worked at EPA for over 35 years.
The emails, attached hereto, consist of the following:
1) a March 12 email from Al McGartland, Office Director of EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics (NCEE), to Alan Carlin, Senior Operations Research Analyst at NCEE, forbidding him from speaking to anyone outside NCEE on endangerment issues;
2) a March 16 email from Mr. Carlin to another NCEE economist, with a cc to Mr. McGartland and two other NCEE staffers, requesting that his study be forwarded to EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, which directs EPA’s climate change program. The email notes the quantity of peer-reviewed references in the study, and defends its inclusion of new research as well. It states Mr. Carlin’s view that “the critical attribute of good science is its correspondence to observable data rather than where it appears in
the technical literature.” It goes on to point out that the new studies “explain much of the observational data that have been collected which cannot be explained by the IPCC models.” (Emphases added);
3) a March 17 email from Mr. McGartland to Mr. Carlin, stating that he will not forward Mr. Carlin’s study. “The time for such discussion of fundamental issues has passed for this round. The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision… I can only see one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office.” (Emphasis added);
4) a second March 17 email from Mr. McGartland to Mr. Carlin, dated eight minutes later, stating “ I don’t want you to spend any additional EPA time on climate change.”
Mr. McGartland’s emails demonstrate that he was rejecting Mr. Carlin’s study because its conclusions ran counter to EPA’s proposed position. This raises several major issues.
A. Incompleteness of the Rulemaking Record: The end result of withholding Mr. Carlin’s study was to taint the Endangerment Proceeding by denying the public access to important agency information. Court rulings have made it abundantly clear that a rulemaking record should include both “the evidence relied upon [by the agency] and the evidence discarded.” Ethyl Corp. v. EPA, 541 F.2d 1, 36 (D.C. Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 426 U.S. 941 (1976).
B. Prejudgment of the Outcome of the Endangerment Proceeding: The emails also suggest that EPA has prejudged the outcome of this proceeding, to the point where it arguably cannot be trusted to fairly evaluate the record before it. Courts have recognized “the danger that an agency, having reached a particular result, may become so committed to that result as to resist engaging in any genuine reconsideration of the issues.” Food Marketing Institute v. ICC, 587 F.2d 1285, 1290 (D.C. Cir. 1978).
C. Violations of EPA’s Commitment to Transparency and Scientific Honesty: Finally, the emails suggest that EPA’s extensive pronouncements about transparency and scientific honesty may just be rhetoric. Shortly before assuming office, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson declared: “As Administrator, I will ensure EPA’s efforts to address the environmental crises of today are rooted in three fundamental values: science-based policies and programs, adherence to the rule of law, and overwhelming transparency.” Jan. 23, 2009, link. See also Administrator Jackson’s April 23 Memo to EPA Employees, “Transparency in EPA’s Operations”. These follow the President’s own January 21 memo to agency heads on “Transparency and Open Government”. And in an April 27 speech to the National Academy of Sciences, the President declared that, “under my administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over.”
Because of ideology, however, it was this back seat to which Mr. Carlin’s study was relegated; more precisely, it was booted out of the car entirely.
For these reasons, we submit that EPA should immediately make Mr. Carlin’s study public by entering it into the Endangerment docket, and that it should either extend or reopen the comment period in this proceeding to allow public responses to that study. It should do so, moreover, while publicly pledging that Mr. Carlin will suffer no adverse repercussions from agency personnel. Mr. Carlin is guilty of no wrongdoing, but the tenor of the emails described above suggests he may well have reason to fear reprisals.
Read the EPA internal emails, including photographs of the originals here.
Call your congressional representative. This is legally wrong and makes a mockery of the public comment process.
Tell them here: 202-224-3121.