The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has received two petitions asking for official review of a regulatory document that served as critical leverage for the Obama administration to issue global warming regulations.
Two groups — Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the Concerned Household Electricity Consumers Council (CHECC) — claim EPA’s 2009 “endangerment finding” should be updated with new evidence invalidating the agency’s previous claim greenhouse gasses threatened public health.
CEI filed its petition in late February, but did not publicize it. Sam Kazman, CEI’s general counsel, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that Trump will have a difficult time rolling back EPA’s global warming regulations without invalidating the “endangerment finding.”
“I think they’re going to have a lot of trouble on the other things they want to get done without addressing the endangerment finding,” Kazman said.
CHECC sent its petition to EPA Jan. 20, during Trump’s inauguration. CHECC is only now publicizing this, along with CEI, to urge the Trump administration to re-examine the endangerment finding now that the president issued an executive order to rolling back Obama-era global warming policies.
CHECC’s petition relies on a 2016 study that “failed to find that the steadily rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations have had a statistically significant impact on any of the 13 critically important temperature time series data analyzed.”
“In sum, all three of the lines of evidence relied upon by EPA to attribute warming to human GHG emissions are invalid,” reads CHCC’s petition. “The Endangerment Finding itself is therefore invalid and should be reconsidered.”
One of EPA’s lines of evidence was predicated on the existence of a “tropical hotspot” where global warming would be most apparent. Climate models predicted there’d be enhanced warming in the tropical troposphere.
CHECC’s 2016 study — by economist James Wallace, climatologist John Christy and meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo — found the tropical hotspot “simply does not exist in the real world.”
The co-authors found that once El Ninos and other natural factors were taken into account, “there is no ‘record setting’ warming to be concerned about.”
“These analysis results would appear to leave very, very little doubt but that EPA’s claim of a Tropical Hot Spot (THS), caused by rising atmospheric CO2 levels, simply does not exist in the real world,” according to CHECC’s 2016 study.
EPA issued its endangerment finding for six greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, in 2009, citing three lines of evidence to claim such emissions from vehicles “endanger both the public health and the public welfare of current and future generations.”
That finding allowed the Obama administration to move forward with an aggressive agenda to clamp down on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, power plants and other industrial facilities.
Obama’s “Climate Action Plan” culminated in the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which limits carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing power plants. The rule is expected to force more coal plants and mines to close their doors.
Twenty-eight states and dozens of business and conservative groups sued EPA to have the CPP overturned. The Supreme Court issued a stay on the CPP in 2016, but federal courts have not ruled on the regulation’s legality.
Trump issued an executive order in March to roll back a slew of Obama global warming policies, including the CPP. Trump’s order also dissolved federal regulations on fracking and Obama climate directives.
EPA’s already started the process of reviewing the CPP, which could take months or even years. Without addressing the underlying endangerment finding, Kazman said EPA would still be legally required to issue some sort of greenhouse gas rule.
Environmentalists could sue EPA to force them to replace the CPP if the Trump administration successfully ousts the rule. Same goes for other EPA regulations that rely on the endangerment finding.
“Claims like that rest entirely on the endangerment finding,” Kazman said.
Kazman did not say what actions CEI would take if EPA decided to let the current endangerment finding stand, but did say the group would “look at our options.”
EPA has not said whether or not it will review the endangerment finding, but Administrator Scott Pruitt was part of the state coalition to have the CPP overturned while Oklahoma attorney general.
Pruitt recently came under fire for saying carbon dioxide was not the primary culprit behind modern global warming.
“So, no, I would not agree that [CO2] is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” Pruitt told CNBC in early March.
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