Wednesday, February 17, 2010

This Is Why We Elected Him

Virginia Attorney General Challenges EPA Power Grab on Carbon Emissions
BY John McCormack

Virginia's attorney general Ken Cuccinelli filed a petition yesterday to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency's December 7 ruling that it would regulate greenhouse gases as it would air pollutants under the Clean Air Act--a back door attempt to accomplish what Congress can't through cap and trade. Cuccinelli argues that the scandal surrounding "climate change" reports should force the EPA to reconsider its ruling. He said of the Climategate scandal at a press conference today: "This wasn't the pursuit of truth. It was political science, not science in the typical sense of the word."

As Steven F. Hayward wrote in THE WEEKLY STANDARD in December on "The EPA's Power Grab":
The greatest irony of the EPA's entry into the fray is that it may reopen the supposedly "settled" question of climate science itself, which has new salience because of the firestorm over the "climategate" scandal involving the leaked emails from the University of East Anglia. There is in addition a separate tale of leaked emails from the EPA itself that has received surprisingly little attention.

Designating carbon dioxide as a Clean Air Act "pollutant" involves a finding that CO2 is a hazard to human health. Common sense suggests this is a stretch. Unlike ozone, which burns lung tissue and harms plant growth, or airborne lead, which harms brain development in children, human beings exhale carbon dioxide--800 pounds per person per year according to the EPA--and CO2 is the primary nutrient for plant life on earth. Since the EPA can't make the case that CO2 is toxic like other air pollution, it based its endangerment finding entirely on indirect or secondary effects, specifically the possibility of more deaths from heat waves, higher ozone levels (ozone tends to rise with temperature), more insect-borne diseases and allergies, and higher vulnerability to extreme weather events such as hurricanes and tornadoes. Each of these claims rests on dubious or contested scientific findings.

In general, human health in the United States keeps improving. Deaths from heat waves in this country have been steadily declining. The EPA's own models project falling ozone levels for the next generation. Vector-borne disease rates (think malaria) correlate much more closely with wealth and poverty than with temperature, and recent research casts doubt on the super-hurricane scenarios.

But according to the Washington Post, the global warming reports have been "questioned for mistakes ranging from typographical errors to problems with sourcing." You know, a typo here, a bad footnote there--nothing so scandalous as "hid[ing] the decline" in a set of global temperature records.

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