Critics Claim EPA Censors Documents Skeptical of Global Warming, Despite Clear Mandate from White House on ‘Scientific Transparency’

By Christopher Neefus | June 29, 2009 | 7:08 PM EDT

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, center, flanked by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), left, and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair-designate Nancy Sutley listen to Menendez introduce them during their nomination hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in January on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

( - A March report circulated within the EPA went unreleased after its findings conflicted with claims that global warming was caused by carbon emissions, the primary assumption behind the newly-passed Waxman-Markey energy bill.
Critics – including eight congressmen -- say the document was suppressed in spite of an Obama administration pledge to bring greater transparency to government.
The report was an evaluation of the EPA’s current Technical Support Document (TSD), analyzing the endangerment of human health caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
Despite asserting that the TSD was not conclusive in its findings, just days later, the EPA told the White House that carbon emissions did indeed endanger the health and welfare of Americans. 
The nonpartisan Competitive Enterprise Institute obtained and released a draft of the dissenting document last week, along with internal correspondence they say proves the report “was kept under wraps and its author silenced because of pressure to support the Administration’s agenda of regulating carbon dioxide.”
The authors of the report, which was conducted by the National Center for Environmental Economics (NCEE), a branch of the EPA, said: “We have become increasingly concerned that EPA and many other agencies and countries have paid too little attention to the science of global warming.”
“EPA and others have tended to accept the findings reached by outside groups,” the report continued, “without a careful and critical examination of their conclusions and documentation.”
According to the document, these were some of the factual concerns the EPA had not addressed in the TSD:
--The TSD glosses over long-term cyclical variations in ocean temperature, similar to El Nino, which “are by far the best single explanation for global temperature fluctuations,” says the report.
The Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation are such variations, and occur in roughly 60-year cycles, as opposed to the 3-5 year El Nino cycle. Their role is “not really explained in the draft TSD,” the report says. “(A)t the very least, there needs to be an explanation as to why (EPA) believes that these evident cycles do not exist or why they are much more unimportant than we believe them to be.”
-- The TSD neglects to explore the “strong association between solar sunspots/irradiance and global temperature fluctuations.” It dismissed solar variations based on data obtained by a U.N. climate panel, but the veracity of that data has since been called into question. New research “suggests that solar variability could account for up to 68 percent of the increase in Earth’s global temperatures.”
-- The TSD’s assumption that greenhouse gases have triggered global warming is hard to verify, because “changes in (greenhouse gas) concentrations appear to have so little effect that it is difficult to find any effect in the satellite temperature record, which started in 1978.”
-- Global temperatures have declined for 11 straight years, and at the same time, “atmospheric CO2 levels have continued to increase and CO2 emissions have accelerated.” The TSD does not reconcile these findings.
-- The TSD finds that there is indeed endangerment of Americans’ health and welfare due to greenhouse gas emissions, but the report says there is an “obvious logical problem posed by steadily increasing U.S. health and welfare measures.”
The report calls for a thorough internal review of the science used in the EPA’s guidance on global warming: “We believe that this review should start immediately and be a continuing effort as long as there is a serious possibility that EPA may be called upon to implement regulations designed to reduce global warming.”
The document, however, was never released by the EPA and the House of Representatives voted last Friday to approve the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which would curb greenhouse gas emissions if enacted.
Its primary author, Alan Carlin, is a career professional at NCEE, who was told by the center’s director, Al McGartlin, not to share his findings.
In an e-mail dated March 12, McGartlin purportedly told Carlin, “please do not have any direct communication with anyone outside of NCEE on (greenhouse gas) endangerment.”
More pointedly, McGartlin said on March 17, “The time for such discussion of fundamental issues has passed for this round.”
“The administrator and the administration have decided to move forward on endangerment,” the director continued, “and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision.”
Carlin told that the suppression of his comments was not business as usual for the EPA.
“Normally, before a decision of this magnitude is made, there’s a careful review of the science inside the EPA,” he said. “I’m not sure that was done in this case.”
Carlin said it was his view that the House’s rushed vote on the 1,500-page cap-and-trade bill was done “without key information.”
He pointed to the report, where he wrote: “Given the downward trend in temperatures since 1998 (which some think will continue until at least 2030) there is no particular reason to rush into decisions based on a scientific hypothesis that does not appear to explain most of the available data.”
Eight House Republicans held a press conference about the document last Thursday, the day before the cap-and-trade bill passed the House. Led by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the members of Congress highlighted the Obama administration’s “promise of openness and transparency and full disclosure and a new change in government.”
Barton suggested that the EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and the White House did not want to entertain findings that contradicted their carbon-curbing agenda.
“(EPA) Administrator Jackson and the Obama administration evidently were not interested (in) professional warnings that the agency was making a costly mistake (on carbon endangerment),” Barton said.
“By all indications to date, the administration had reached a politically viable judgment on endangerment,” Barton continued, “and preferred to suppress dissent from within the ranks of its professional staff rather than take the time to consider (their) views.”
In a memorandum dated March 9, the same month Carlin’s report was completed, the White House told the heads of all executive departments and agencies: “The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions. Political officials should not suppress or alter scientific or technological findings and conclusions.”
Similarly, in an April 27 speech at the National Academy of Sciences, Obama pledged to make scientific research transparent.
“Under my administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over,” he said. “Our progress as a nation -- and our values as a nation --- is rooted in free and open inquiry.
To undermine scientific integrity,” Obama added, “is to undermine our democracy. It is contrary to our way of life.”
The EPA did not return calls for comment, but press secretary Adora Andy submitted an e-mailed statement to, denying any wrongdoing.
“Claims that this individual’s opinions were not considered or studied are entirely false,” Andy wrote. “This administration and this EPA Administrator are fully committed to openness, transparency and science-based decision making.”
Andy added that Carlin’s viewpoint has not been suppressed.
“(H)is manager has allowed his general view on the subject of climate change to be heard and considered inside and outside the EPA and presented at conferences and at an agency seminar.”