The Peabody Petition to the EPA

Source:  SPPI

by Robert Ferguson

Peabody Energy has filed a petition [executive summary] with the EPA asking them to reconsider their findings that greenhouse gases released by human activities “threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.” The Peabody Petition was filed in light of the massive evidence of the manipulation of the IPCC process—a processes highly prized by the EPA—which has been exposed by the Climategate emails.  The EPA conducted little-to-no assessment of their own into the science of climate change, but instead relied heavily on the work of the IPCC—work which the Petition shows, in no uncertain terms, is tainted and unreliable.

The full Petition is one of the strongest cases yet presented that the EPA’s reliance on the IPCC Assessment Reports is misplaced, scientifically as well legally. It includes an in-depth look at the behind-the-scenes manipulation that took place with such topics as the “hockeystick,” tree-ring divergence, the “trick,” the warm early Holocene, the Medieval Warm Period, the surface temperature record, Freedom on Information requests, scientific peer-review, journal contents, and many other topics.

Here is an excerpt (from the 200+ page Petition) that provides a general summary of the science problems:

Even assuming arguendo that EPA could, in theory, have relied primarily on the “assessment literature,” the CRU material shows that such reliance was misplaced. Although EPA believed that its review of the written procedures of the organizations that prepared the “assessment literature” was sufficient to ensure that data and information used by in that literature met EPA’s standards for quality and transparency, the CRU material [climategate emails] demonstrates that the IPCC process was not transparent and rigorous and therefore does not meet the standards to which EPA is subject. Having relied so heavily on the “assessment literature,” EPA must now reconsider that reliance in light of the flaws revealed in the CRU material. As the matter stands, EPA has effectively ceded its responsibilities to an international body whose conclusions were reached following a flawed scientific process that cannot validly form the basis for EPA regulation.

As described at great length [in the full Petition], the individuals implicated by the CRU material were the leading scientists involved with preparation of the IPCC chapters on which EPA relied in the Endangerment Finding on the critical issue of whether climate change is caused by anthropogenic GHG emissions. The abuses revealed call into question both the substance of the IPCC chapters that EPA relied on and the process used to prepare those chapters. The abuses thus go to the core of the Endangerment Finding and therefore are plainly of “central relevance” to that finding within the meaning of CAA § 307(d)(7)(B).

For instance, the coordinating lead authors and lead authors of those chapters appear to have suppressed information and studies that conflicted with their desire to tell a story of unprecedented 20th century climate change. They manipulated publication deadlines to favor inclusion in their chapters of studies supporting their views, they allowed those who supported their views to act as contributing authors without disclosing that fact, and they inappropriately acted both as authors and reviewers, again without proper disclosure, and they relied on unpublished secondary source material prepared by advocacy organizations. The CRU material shows that these chapters cannot be described as the product of an open process and a neutral summary of the science. Even worse, the peer-review pressure was so conflicted and agenda-driven that basic factual errors are beginning to emerge and the conclusions are now being disputed in the scientific literature.

The abuses, furthermore, included manipulating the development of peer-reviewed literature to influence the types of studies that would be used both in the IPCC process and in the course of public debate. These scientists used their influence in the climate science journal community to prevent publication of papers that conflicted with their views, and they even actively discussed organizing boycotts and took other action to get “troublesome” journal editors – those who allowed publication of articles that they didn’t like – replaced. They used inappropriate means to get papers published supporting their views, as by applying lenient peer-review standards, by selecting peer-reviewers who were close associates of the author in violation of the standards of the affected journal, and by expediting publication of responses to articles that they did not like. And they routinely denigrated the work of scientists with whom they did not agree, calling them “moron[s],” “idiots,” and perpetrators of “fraud.”

Of at least equal concern, they absolutely stonewalled efforts to obtain underlying data that could be used to replicate and critique their work, even when the requests were submitted under FOIA and even to the point of destroying information. Their view seemed to be that information would not be provided to skeptics on the ground that, as one of them admitted, “Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?” And, in a similar vein, they shrouded the IPCC process in secrecy by refusing to divulge, and even destroying, information pertaining to preparation of the IPCC reports, in violation of U.K. freedom of information laws.

These actions fall far short of the standards to which EPA is subject in preparing its Endangerment Finding. They reflect a fundamentally arbitrary approach to science that is not open to dissenting views. EPA, of course, cannot rely, particularly to the extent it did here, on information that was prepared in such an arbitrary fashion.

Moreover, the actions of these influential scientists show a lack of transparency directly at odds with EPA’s obligations under the IQA and under the standards for transparency that EPA has set for itself. As EPA’s IQA Guidelines provide:

For disseminated influential and supporting data, EPA intends to ensure reproducibility according to commonly accepted scientific, financial, or statistical standards. It is important that analytic results for influential information have a higher degree of transparency regarding (1) the source of the data used, (2) the various assumptions employed, (3) the analytic methods applied, and (4) the statistical assumptions employed.

The Administrator specifically committed to high levels of transparency immediately upon taking office, both in her January 23, 2009 memorandum to EPA employees (“we [will] fully disclose the information that forms the basis for our decisions”) and in her March 9, 2009 memorandum regarding scientific integrity reiterating her “commitment to transparency.” That commitment and EPA’s responsibility for transparent science set forth in its IQA guidelines cannot be squared with the actions revealed in the CRU material.

In sum, the Endangerment Finding stated that “EPA has no reason to believe that the assessment reports do not represent the best source of material to determine the state of science and the consensus view of the world’s scientific experts on the issues central to making an endangerment decision with respect to greenhouse gases.” Given the CRU material, however, it now does.

The evidence behind all these claims is fully laid out in the Petition and deserving of exploration. The experience will be eye-opening.