Tuesday, February 16, 2010

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Texas Challenges Federal Government Over EPA Greenhouse Gas Findings

AUSTIN – The State of Texas today challenged the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) endangerment finding for greenhouse gases.

“With billions of dollars at stake, EPA outsourced the scientific basis for its greenhouse gas regulation to a scandal-plagued international organization that cannot be considered objective or trustworthy,” said Attorney General Abbott. “Prominent climate scientists associated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were engaged in an ongoing, orchestrated effort to violate freedom of information laws, exclude scientific research, and manipulate temperature data. In light of the parade of controversies and improper conduct that has been uncovered, we know that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cannot be relied upon for objective, unbiased science,so EPA should not rely upon it to reach a decision that will hurt small businesses, farmers, ranchers, and the larger Texas economy.”

Media links

View Video of News Conference
Petition for reconsideration filed with the EPA
Petition for review filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia

In its petition for reconsideration filed with the EPA, the State indicates the EPA’s endangerment finding is legally unsupported because the agency outsourced its “scientific assessment” to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has been discredited by recent revelations about the conduct, objectivity, reliability and propriety of its scientific contributors. In order to determine that a substance is a danger to the public health and welfare, EPA must conduct a scientific assessment. Despite the widespread consequences and billion-dollar impact of its endangerment finding, EPA did not conduct its own assessment but relied upon an IPCC assessment that has been widely discredited by recently revealed evidence of key scientists’ lack of objectivity and their coordinated efforts to hide flaws in their research, along with their attempts to keep contravening evidence out of IPCC reports, and the IPCC's violation of freedom of information laws.

Texas also filed a petition for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Because of a statutory deadline on the time within which a challenge must be filed to an endangerment finding, the State is asking the court to overturn the EPA’s endangerment finding and remand it to the EPA administrator for further review.

Attorney General Abbott joined Governor Rick Perry and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples at a news conference announcing the actions at the Texas Capitol.

“Texas is aggressively seeking its future in alternative energy through incentives and innovation, not mandates and overreaching regulation,” Gov. Perry said. “The EPA’s misguided plan paints a big target on the backs of Texas agriculture and energy producers and the hundreds of thousands of Texans they employ. This legal action is being taken to protect the Texas economy and the jobs that go with it, as well as defend Texas’ freedom to continue our successful environmental strategies free from federal overreach.”

Today’s legal challenge notes that Texas has a record of working proactively to protect natural resources and improve environmental quality. For example, Texas has worked with EPA to successfully negotiate a record-breaking $700 million settlement under the Clean Air Act, has achieved the largest absolute decline in greenhouse gas emissions of any state in the nation, has decreased industrial-source nitrogen oxide by 46% in recent years, and has reduced major metropolitan areas’ ozone levels by 22%. Further, because of Governor Perry’s focus on diversifying the state’s energy portfolio, Texas has installed more wind power than any other state and all but four countries.

The EPA’s decision to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act will impose a tremendous regulatory and financial burden on farmers and ranchers, small businesses, and an energy sector that thousands of Texans depend upon for their jobs—not to mention the Texas families who face $1,200 in increased annual living costs during a down economy.

“EPA’s move to regulate greenhouse gases would impose devastating rules on those Texans who fuel one of our state’s largest economic sectors – farmers and ranchers,” Commissioner Staples said. “As a regulatory agency, the Texas Department of Agriculture is required to impose rules based on sound science – not political science. Not only does state law require this, but it is also a fundamental principle by which regulators all across the U.S. have always lived. EPA has ignored extensive research on greenhouse gas emissions and based this significant regulation on faulty data.”

With exports totaling $5 billion, Texas ranks third in the nation in total agriculture exports. In 2007, cash receipts from the agriculture sector exceeded $19 billion, which in turn, had a $100 billion impact on the Texas economy. More than 1.7 million Texans work for farms and farm-related employers—which mean 16.6 percent of Texans rely on farming and ranching for their livelihood. With 250,000 farms and ranches covering more than 129 million acres, Texas depends on farmer and ranchers to help preserve the land, protect habitat, and conserve natural resources.

In its Petition for Reconsideration, the State provided evidence that prominent climate research scientists conspired to:

• Ignore information and data requests under the Freedom of Information Act. In response, the British Information Commissioner’s Office has since indicated that the scientists’ conduct constituted a criminal violation of that country’s open records laws.

• Destroy and manipulate climate data when information from temperature-measuring weather stations did not support their view that the earth’s temperature is warming. In response, the British Meteorological Office has announced a three-year inquiry into more than 160 years of temperature data.

• Exclude from the IPCC report certain research that raised disagreed with their position and raised questions about human beings’ impact on the global climate. Additional evidence of the scientists’ efforts to suppress dissent also reveals a concerted effort to undermine the independence of the peer review process and boycott scientific journals that were willing to publish studies which questioned man-made global warming.

The State’s 35-page Petition for Reconsideration details multiple examples of improprieties by the IPCC and the scientists on which its reports rely. Because of the serious questions surrounding the veracity, objectivity, and trustworthiness of the IPCC report, the State of Texas is asking the Administrator to reconsider the finding and conduct her own independent review to determine the current state of the science in light of the information that has been revealed in recent months.