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ITSSD steps up battle against GHG endangerment finding

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World Coal,

A new Freedom of Information Act (FIOA) request from the Institute for Trade, Standards and Sustainable Development (ITSSD) aims to expose serious legal flaws in the scientific basis for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) greenhouse gas endangerment finding.

Following on the heels of a similar FIOA request filed with the EPA in June, the latest request targets the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) – the US government’s lead climate change agency – and ten NOAA-developed climate assessments that formed, in part, the core scientific reference for the endangerment finding. The EPA has since used these and other scientific assessments as the scientific basis for numerous regulations, including those of new and existing coal-fired power plants.

However, according to Lawrence Kogan, CEO of the ITSSD, despite the leading role the NOAA research played in establishing the regulatory framework for greenhouse gas emissions in the US, it fails to satisfy key criteria of the Information Quality Act (IQA) and relevant applicable OMB, NOAA and EPA IQA-implementing guidelines. Such failures should have precluded the EPA from using the studies as the basis for the endangerment finding and the enacted and proposed regulations it has spawned, and could now present an opportunity for legal challenge.

The 247-page FOIA request includes 44 appendices and other documented evidence of “pervasive institutional conflicts-of-interest, subject matter bias and lack of intellectual independence among selected peer review panel members, including the bi-level peer review panels and committees and the oversight boards of the much vaunted National Academy of Sciences, that severely compromised the IQA compliance of the NOAA-developed climate assessments”, continued Kogan.

Furthermore, the NOAA FOIA reveals, as had ITSSD’s previously filed EPA FOIA, that public stakeholders were not provided an adequate administrative review of their requests for correction of improperly peer reviewed agency climate data.

Consequently, “the EPA's and NOAA's circumvention of and nonconformance with the IQA denied public stakeholders their constitutional and statutory rights to due process. Such circumvention and nonconformance ultimately resulted in the EPA's enactment of costly and burdensome regulations with significant direct economic impacts throughout the nation's industries, states and localities, as well as, in indirect economic impacts upon consumers,” concludes Kogan.

According to the ITSSD, unless the documents NOAA discloses in response to its FOIA request show otherwise, OMB, NOAA and EPA IQA-implementing guidelines now require the EPA to either base its GHG regulations on other scientific assessments or to re-peer review these studies in conformance with the applicable relevant IQA standards to ensure that they follow US law.

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