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ITSSD responds to EPA’s power plant rule

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World Coal,

The scientific basis for regulating the carbon emissions of existing US power plants has not been been properly validated according to the provisions of the Information Quality Act (IQA), argues the Institute for Trade, Standards and Sustainable Development (ITSSD) in its recent submission to the EPA, responding to the agency’s solicitation for public comments.

In its 88 page submission, the ITSSD argues that the EPA “failed to properly validate” the major scientific assessments underlying the 2009 Greenhouse Gas Endangerment Findings and the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA3) as is required under the IQA and its implementing guidance.

The NCA3 comes in for particular criticism from the ITSSD, which had previously criticised the EPA's peer review of the Endangerment Findings in a prior FOIA request filed with the agency. Examining the peer review process for NCA3, which was contracted out to the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences (NRC/NRS), the institute found “a number of IQA violations concerning the peer reviewer selection process and peer review panel composition,” Lawrence Kogan, CEO of the ITSSD told World Coal. “The violations were due to numerous apparent – if not real – conflicts-of-interest [which] resulted in subject matter bias”.

“In a recent op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Hank Campbell lamented the increasing corruption of the peer review process, pointing out that corrupted peer review practices could lead to flawed government policies and specifically mentioning improprieties at the NRC/NAS.” Kogan continued. “We argue that this now appears to be the norm at the NRC/NAS. The NRC/NAS is not accountable to the public given its private status and is only minimally accountable to an administration that has effectively suborned it to further administration climate change policy.”

According to the ITSSD submission, such violations of the IQA should preclude the EPA from adopting, endorsing and using these assessments as the scientific foundation for its proposed power plant rule, unless EPA peer reviews them once again in conformance with such IQA standards. Should the power plant regulations come into force without such a revision of the peer reviews, it would potentially offer the coal industry a legal route to challenge the EPA.

As Kogan wrote recently for World Coal: “If ITSSD or others could show that [these scientific assessments] failed to adhere to IQA guidelines, they could potentially file a fresh lawsuit over it. Should such a challenge succeed and undo the finding, that would feasibly provide significant new grounds for industry and other EPA critics to scrap the climate regulations.”

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