The Environmental Protection Agency has been accused by a government watchdog agency of cutting corners when compiling information for a document regarding climate change. In response, the EPA contends that they “reasonably interpreted” the guidelines when putting together their report, noting that the agency “undertook a thorough and deliberate process in the development of this finding, including a careful review of the wide range of peer-reviewed science.”
A report released by the Inspector General contends that in the process of producing a scientific document that would influence the regulation of climate change restrictions, the EPA failed to take part in a necessary review process. The EPA document on climate change marked the first time the government began to regulate greenhouses gases, which was a controversial decision within the government. Of the allegations that the EPA cut corners, Inspector Arthur A. Elkins, Jr. said “while it may be debatable what impact, if any, this had on EPA’s finding, it is clear that EPA did not follow all the required steps.”
The investigation into the EPA was ordered by James Inhofe, a Republican senator from Oklahoma. Inhofe, who has denied the science of climate change, posited that “the very foundation of President Obama’s job-destroying agenda was rushed, biased, and flawed.” The lengthy report takes pains to accuse the EPA of wrongdoing by making the claim that the EPA intentionally misrepresented research regarding climate change.
The findings of the report concluded that before making the assertion that climate change is harmful to human health, the EPA should have sought out an independent peer review of the research. The peer review process is part of the necessary procedure required by the White House Office of Management and Budget guidelines.
Rather than have the science peer reviewed, the EPA chose to use assessments and summaries by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council, among other sources. The report does concede, however, that the EPA “generally followed” requirements to support the proposal of their findings, but cut corners when it came to the peer review.
The report released by the Inspector General recommends that the EPA “revise its Peer Review Handbook to accurately reflect OMB (Office of Management and Budget) requirements…instruct program offices to state in proposed and final rules whether the action is supported by influential scientific information or a highly influential scientific assessment, and revise its assessment factors guidance to establish minimum review and documentation requirements for assessing and accepting data from other organizations.”
While the government watchdog agency disputes the validity of the EPA’s claims regarding climate change, multiple sources have verified the truth behind the EPA’s scientific research. David Doniger, the policy director of the climate and clean air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, has characterized the EPA’s scientific findings as an “enormous, multi-layered pyramid” that has been compiled over a number of years.
Despite James Inhofe’s insistence that the science behind climate change is fabricated, the work of the EPA has been undeniably enlightening. Besides writing the reports that influenced the government to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA has accomplished multiple milestones since its creation in 1970. The agency has been responsible for banning harmful substances such as certain pesticides, lead-based paint, and lead in gasoline. The agency has also set fuel efficiency standards, supervised the cleanup of contaminated areas, and reinforced the Clean Air Act, among many other beneficial acts for the environment. Regardless of the accusations leveled against the EPA, the most harmful thing in this situation would be to ignore the science behind climate change.
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