EPA report doctored?

EPA report doctored?

By Joe Baker, Senior Editor

The federal Environmental Protection Agency and the National Academy of Sciences issued reports last year that labeled carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and vehicle exhausts as a major source of greenhouse gases.

Greenhouse gases are tagged as the prime agent in global warming.

Now the EPA is preparing to release a draft report on the condition of the environment. The New York Times reports a strange thing happened to that report on the way to publication—it was edited by the White House.

The report, commissioned in 2001 by EPA Administrator Christie Whitman, originally contained a long section citing many studies that concluded global warming is caused, at least in part, by concentrations of smokestack and tailpipe emissions and could pose health hazards to people and ecosystems.

The edited report removed all references to these studies and to a 1999 study that showed global temperatures rose sharply in the previous 10 years compared with the last 1,000.

Instead of including that information, the Bush White House substituted a study financed by the oil industry that challenges the conclusion of the 1999 study.

EPA staffers, after talks with administration officials, decided to delete the entire climate data section rather than face charges of filtering science to fit policy.

Whitman said: “As it went through the review, there was less consensus on the science and conclusions on climate change. So, rather than go out with something half-baked or not put out the whole report, we felt it was important for us to get this out because there is a lot of really good information that people can use to measure our successes.”

James Connaughton, who chairs a White House advisory group called the Council on Environmental Quality, said: “It would be utterly inaccurate to suggest that this administration has not provided quite an extensive discussion about the state of the climate. Ultimately, EPA made the decision not to include the section on climate change because we had these ample discussions of the subject already.”

Environmental groups in the private sector were sharply critical of the action by the White House.

Jeremy Symons, a climate policy expert with the National Wildlife Federation, said: “Political staff is becoming increasingly bold in forcing agency officials to endorse junk science. This is like the White House directing the secretary of labor to alter unemployment data to paint a rosy economic picture.”

The edited version of the report elicited complaints from EPA staffers who worked on the document. An internal memorandum said that the section on climate control “no longer accurately represents scientific consensus on climate change.”

Changes in the report were mostly made by the Council on Environmental Quality.

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