EPA Delivers Lump of Coal to America for Holidays

Vickie PattonThis post is by Vickie Patton, Deputy General Counsel at Environmental Defense, and a former attorney in the EPA’s General Counsel’s office.

Two years ago, California asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to pave the way for landmark standards to limit global warming from motor vehicles. Seventeen other states plan to implement the Clean Car standards, pending the EPA decision. But today – after two years of stalling – EPA said no. This decision is virtually unprecedented; EPA has granted similar requests over 50 times in 40 years.

The Bush administration is putting the brakes on state action to address the global warming crisis. Doing nothing about global warming is bad enough – but going out of your way to block the state leaders who are taking action is just plain shocking.

For decades, EPA administrators have recognized the important role that California plays in innovating new air pollution limits for motor vehicles to fight pollution, and to deliver cleaner, healthier air. The 18 states that plan to implement the Clean Cars program account for nearly 50 percent of the total U.S. population and 45 percent of new automobile sales. Their implementation of the Clean Cars program would make a significant dent in global warming pollution, securing a 30 percent pollution cut by 2016 and eventually preventing 100 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to removing 20 million cars from the road.

EPA said that new fuel economy standards in the recently authorized energy bill would suffice to reduce global warming emissions from new automobiles. But the Clean Cars program secures deeper pollution reductions faster. The California clean car standards will start in Model Year 2009, fully phasing in by 2016. Science says we can’t wait; global warming is already occurring. We must take action now. Every ton of global warming pollution prevented today is critical in stabilizing the climate.

The Supreme Court ruled in April 2007 that EPA has the authority and the obligation to regulate global warming pollution. When automakers sued, two federal courts – in Vermont and in California – affirmed states’ rights to proceed with the Clean Cars program. Federal district court Judge Anthony Ishii ruled just last week that EPA’s duty to protect human health and welfare from global warming pollution is more expansive than the nation’s fuel efficiency laws:

Given the level of impairment of human health and welfare that current climate science indicates may occur if human-generated greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, it would be the very definition of folly if EPA were precluded from action."

Given the grim urgency of the global warming crisis, EPA’s own decision to put the brakes on state action is more than folly – it is tragic.

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  1. Posted December 21, 2007 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    There were some good editorials in the New York Times and Washington Post on this today.

  2. Bill Mc
    Posted December 25, 2007 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Personally, I am absolutely thrilled that we passed AB32 in California. I actually got to meet one of the co-authors of the bill, Joe Nation. In a visit to our offices, Joe extolled the carbon-credit trading program, how it would require businesses in all nations to comply or not do business with America’s most populous state, and when asking what everyone in the audience did here, he often said he actually knew nothing about the technical aspects of climate change. All the ladies thought he was so cute.

    But what makes this so very important, is that while not addressing the almost unbelievable slowdown in world population growth, and therefore the almost complete cessation of growth in resource usage, forest loss and species decimation, AB32 will erect the universes first multiple gravitational mirrors to cease, permanently, the variations in earth’s orbit visited upon us by our neighbors in this solar system venture, thereby eliminating entirely those pesky, regular as a geologic clock, 100k year long ice ages (of which we have suffered 16! during which our braincase size as a species went from 500-2500cc).

    I mean, as dumb as we are as a species to be stuck on the right side of the decimal point (worried about going from 0.04% to 0.08% CO2), while the left side is racking up 50% loss of forests, 50% loss of grasslands (can you say dust?), 40k species loss/annum, 33% of all amphibians on the endangered species list, 25% of all mammals, is a real credit to our species.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Arctic sedimentologists recently concluded that the trigger event for the slide into the next ice age is the complete melting away of the Arctic ice cap (progged for 2070). Not to worry though, the past is in no way a means of predicting the future. Nevermind the fact that the past 16 climate change events have resulted in 400 foot changes in sea level. Nevermind the fact that at present, we are 100 feet shy of the past 16 high stands, and will have now way of figuring out which of the 5 20 foot intervals that represents, Al Gores 20 feet will be.

    But do have as many children you want. The UN says that to support earth’s present population, we will only need 7 more M class planets. At the present dramatically diminished rate of population growth (grin) battling for laws to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in light of the huge natural climate change regime, makes far more sense than not being in denial and realizing that this is spaceship earth, and we have no clue where those other 7 M class planets are. Not to mention how we would enslave them (no issues there), or get to them.

    As an adolescent I had the pleasure of watching Barnard’s star briefly replace Alpha Centauri as the star closest to earth. barnard’s star wobbles in its trajectory. Multiple wobbles, inferring more than one planet. later that same year I went to a famous astronomer’s lecture. He told a joke during his talk. He said a reporter asked a famous astronomer a question after he had made his presentation. He asked “Is there intelligent life in the universe?” The old astronomer looked into space, stroked his beard and replied “There is some evidence for it on earth, but it is not conclusive……”

    I cannot help but agree.

  3. rkcannon
    Posted December 25, 2007 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    What if CO2 really doesn’t cause global warming? If it did, why isn’t the average temperature warming over the last 8 years? It has not been. And why were there 16 ice ages without man?

    It appears that the science is NOT settled by any means.


    Dr Vincent Gray, a member of the UN IPCC Expert Reviewers Panel since its inception, has written to Professor David Henderson, to support the latter’s call for a review of the IPCC and its procedures.

    Dr Gray wrote:

    Thank you for your latest article containing your analysis of the limitations of the IPCC and your belief that it is possible for it to be reformed.

    I have been an “Expert Reviewer” for the IPCC right from the start and I have submitted a very large number of comments on their drafts. It has recently been revealed that I submitted 1,898 comments on the Final Draft of the current Report. Over the period I have made an intensive study of the data and procedures used by IPCC contributors throughout their whole study range. I have a large library of reprints, books and comments and have published many comments of my own in published papers, a book, and in my occasional newsletter, the current number being 157.

    I began with a belief in scientific ethics, that scientists would answer queries honestly, that scientific argument would take place purely on the basis of facts, logic and established scientific and mathematical principles.

    Right from the beginning I have had difficulty with this procedure. Penetrating questions often ended without any answer. Comments on the IPCC drafts were rejected without explanation, and attempts to pursue the matter were frustrated indefinitely.

    Over the years, as I have learned more about the data and procedures of the IPCC I have found increasing opposition by them to providing explanations, until I have been forced to the conclusion that for significant parts of the work of the IPCC, the data collection and scientific methods employed are unsound. Resistance to all efforts to try and discuss or rectify these problems has convinced me that normal scientific procedures are not only rejected by the IPCC, but that this practice is endemic, and was part of the organisation from the very beginning. I therefore consider that the IPCC is fundamentally corrupt. The only “reform” I could envisage, would be its abolition.

    I wonder whether I could summarize briefly some of the reasons why the scientific procedures followed by the IPCC are fundamentally unsound. Some of you may have received more detail if you received my recent NZClimate Truth Newsletters (see under “Links” on this website).

    The two main “scientific” claims of the IPCC are the claim that “the globe is warming” and “Increases in carbon dioxide emissions are responsible”. Evidence for both of these claims is fatally flawed.

    To start with the “global warming” claim. It is based on a graph showing that “mean annual global temperature” has been increasing.

    This claim fails from two fundamental facts

    1. No average temperature of any part of the earth’s surface, over any period, has ever been made.

    How can you derive a “global average” when you do not even have a single “local” average?

    What they actually use is the procedure used from 1850, which is to make one measurement a day at the weather station from a maximum/minimum thermometer. The mean of these two is taken to be the average. No statistician could agree that a plausible average can be obtained this way. The potential bias is more than the claimed “global warming.

    2. The sample is grossly unrepresentative of the earth’s surface, mostly near to towns. No statistician could accept an “average” based on such a poor sample. It cannot possibly be “corrected”

    It is of interest that frantic efforts to “correct” for these uncorrectable errors have produced mean temperature records for the USA and China which show no overall “warming” at all. If they were able to “correct” the rest, the same result is likely

    And, then after all, there has been no “global warming”, however measured, for eight years, and this year is all set to be cooling. As a result it is now politically incorrect to speak of “global warming”. The buzzword is “Climate Change” which is still blamed on the non-existent “warming”

    The other flagship set of data promoted by the IPCC are the figures showing the increase in atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide. They have manipulated the data in such a way to persuade us (including most scientists) that this concentration is constant throughout the atmosphere. In order to do this, they refrain from publishing any results which they do not like, and they have suppressed no less than 90,000 measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide made in the last 150 years. Some of these were made by Nobel Prizewinners and all were published in the best scientific journals. Ernst Beck has published on the net all the actual papers.

    Why did they do it? It is very subtle. Brush up your maths. In order to calculate the radiative effects of carbon dioxide you have to use a formula involving a logarithm. When such a formula is applied to a set of figures, the low figures have a greater weight in the final average radiation. The figure obtained from the so-called “background figure” is therefore biased in an upwards direction.

    My main complaint with the IPCC is in the methods used to “evaluate” computer models. Proper “validation” of models should involve proved evidence that they are capable of future prediction within the range required, and to a satisfactory level of accuracy. Without this procedure, no self-respecting computer engineer would dare to make use of a model for prediction.

    No computer climate model has ever been tested in this way, so none should be used for prediction. They sort of accept this by never permitting the use of the term “prediction”, only “projection”. But they then go ahead predicting anyway.

    There is a basic logical principle that a correlation, however convincing, is not proof of causation. Most scientists pay at least lip service to this principle, but its widespread lack of acceptance by the general public have led to IPCC to explore it as one of their methods of “evaluating” models.

    The models are so full of inaccurately known parameters and equations that it is comparatively easy to “fudge” an approximate fit to the few climate sequences that might respond. This sort of evidence is the main feature of most of the current promotional lectures.

    The most elaborate of all their “evaluation” techniques is far more dubious. Since they have failed to show that any models are actually capable of prediction, they have decided to “evaluate” them by asking the opinions of those who originate them, people with a financial interest in their success. This has become so complex that many have failed to notice that it has no scientific basis, but is just an assembly of the “gut feelings” of self-styled “experts”. It has been developed to a complex web of “likelihoods”, all of which are assigned fake “probability” levels.

    By drawing attention to these obvious facts I have now found myself persona non grata with most of my local professional associations, Surely, I am questioning the integrity of these award-winning scientific leaders of the local science establishment. When you get down to it, that is what is involved.

    I somehow understood that the threshold had been passed when I viewed “The Great Global Warming Swindle”. Yes, we have to face it. The whole process is a swindle, The IPCC from the beginning was given the licence to use whatever methods would be necessary to provide “evidence” that carbon dioxide increases are harming the climate, even if this involves manipulation of dubious data and using peoples’ opinions instead of science to “prove” their case.

    The disappearance of the IPCC in disgrace is not only desirable but inevitable. The reason is, that the world will slowly realise that the “predictions” emanating from the IPCC will not happen. The absence of any “global warming” for the past eight years is just the beginning. Sooner or later all of us will come to realise that this organisation, and the thinking behind it, is phony. Unfortunately severe economic damage is likely to be done by its influence before that happens.

  4. fred1
    Posted January 26, 2008 at 1:40 am | Permalink

    Bill mc,

    I would be interested in seeing your source about the ice free arctic being the catalyst for the next ice age. i also think this entire concern about CO2 is ridiculous given that ice core samples show that CO2 levels are an EFFECT not cause of global warming. Plus on a personal level it is cold as you know what where i lie this winter.

    would be interested in seeing the info about the ice free arctice being a precursuer to the ice age, which i long suspected was coming in the next 200 years or so

  5. Posted January 29, 2008 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    fred1 wrote:

    >ice core samples show that CO2 levels are an EFFECT not cause of global warming.

    Here’s the explanation for why this is, and why we still need to worry about CO2. It’s from Bill Chameides’ post on Past Causes of Climate Change:

    The major dips in the graph are ice ages, caused by shifts in the Earth’s orbit around the sun. The warming from the change in how sunlight hits the Earth is amplified by an increase in CO2 concentration. The sequence goes like this:

    1. Orbital changes trigger an initial, relatively small temperature change on Earth.

    2. Melting permafrost and other changes caused by the warming release CO2 into the atmosphere.

    3. Since CO2 is a greenhouse gas, increased CO2 concentrations cause more global warming.