Republican lawmakers, coming off a loss Friday in their attempt to block passage of a massive climate bill, have seized on a global warming memo they say was suppressed by the Obama administration.
The memo, drafted by two environmental economists, is highly critical of the science behind an Environmental Protection Agency memo that found carbon dioxide to be a greenhouse gas.
Sen. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, said the memo shows that the EPA did not have accurate information when it completed its finding.
“Over the last few days, however, we have learned that a senior EPA official suppressed a detailed, rigorous account of the most up-to-date science of climate change,” Mr. Inhofe and Mr. Barrasso wrote in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson on Tuesday. “This account, written by two agency employees, raises serious questions about the process behind, and the substance of, the Agency’s proposed finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare.”
An EPA spokeswoman noted that the memo’s author, Alan Carlin, is an economist, not a climate scientist, and denied the claims of suppression.
“Claims that this individual’s opinions were not considered or studied are entirely false,” EPA spokeswoman Adora Andy said Tuesday.
“The document he submitted was reviewed by his peers and agency scientists, and information from that report was submitted by his manager to those responsible for developing the proposed endangerment finding. In fact, some ideas from that document are included and addressed in the endangerment finding,” Ms. Andy said.
The EPA found in its so-called “endangerment finding” determined that carbon dioxide is one of six gases that contribute to global warming. The move, spurred by a 2007 Supreme Court decision, was lauded by liberals and chastened broadly by conservative groups.
Mr. Carlin, according to his Web site, has worked for close to four decades as an economist at the EPA.
Mr. Carlin’s boss, Al McGartland, director of the National Center for Environmental Economics, wrote in a series of e-mails between March 12 and March 17 that he would not forward the critique to the EPA office in charge of writing the final endangerment finding.
“I don’t want you to spend any additional EPA time on climate change. No papers, no research etc., at least until we see what EPA is going to do with Climate,” Mr. McGartland wrote in a May 17 e-mail.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a conservative think tank, pushed the memo and the e-mails this week and, on Tuesday, sent the EPA a formal request that it release the report.
“EPA sits on this report for over three months, and then only allows it to be made public on the author’s personal Web site,” CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman said. “The fact that we have to formally re-file it with the agency indicates how unreal this situation is.”
Global warming skeptics publicizing the memo this week have said the Obama administration is guilty the same thing that it had accused the Bush White House of: placing ideology ahead of science.
But liberal watchdog groups have said the memo repeats false claims made by global warming skeptic Patrick Michaels and have noted that much of the report was drawn from blogs and reports that had not been peer-reviewed.
House lawmakers narrowly passed a contentious climate change bill Friday, after heavy lobbying from the Obama White House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. The bill, which supporters say will help curb global warming, now moves to the Senate.