* Report centers on EPA's 2009 endangerment finding
* Inspector General does not question EPA CO2 rules
* Republican: report was "rushed, biased, and flawed"
* White House's OMB says EPA followed protocol
(Rewrites lead, adds more EPA quotes, cost of report)
By Timothy Gardner
WASHINGTON, Sept 28 The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency may not have met White House guidelines in
laying the groundwork to regulate carbon emissions, a
government watchdog said in a report that could fuel Republican
efforts to block the agency's new rules on climate.
The EPA's Inspector General on Wednesday accused the agency
of not following White House procedures in peer reviewing its
so-called "endangerment finding" issued in 2009 that found
greenhouse gas emissions were harming human health.
The watchdog said one of the 12 panelists who had reviewed
the finding was an EPA employee, something that was not allowed
for a so-called "highly influential scientific assessment."
In addition, it said some of the panel's findings were not
released to the public, something that was also required.
But the EPA said it did not consider the finding to be
classified as a "highly influential" document in part because
it relied on information that had already been peer reviewed by
the National Academy of Sciences.
The White House's Office of Management and Budget agreed
with the EPA. "OMB -- the author of the guidance -- is
confident that EPA reasonably interpreted the direction
provided and is complying appropriately," Meg Reilly, a
spokeswoman at the office said in an email.
Nevertheless, Republican Senator Jim Inhofe, the minority
member of the Senate's environment panel who called for the
report, said it showed the endangerment finding was inadequate
and violated the agency's peer review procedures.
"This report confirms that the endangerment finding, the
very foundation of President Obama's job-destroying regulatory
agenda, was rushed, biased, and flawed," Inhofe said in a
release about the report which cost nearly $300,000. Inhofe, a
longtime climate skeptic who is writing a book on global
warming called "The Hoax," said he was calling for immediate
hearings on the EPA issue.
The EPA said on Wednesday it would consider the inspector
general's recommendations to revise its Peer Review Handbook
and establish requirements for assessing data.
But it was adamant the science it relied on, from the U.S.
Climate Change Science Program, the National Research Council,
and the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was
SCIENCE NOT QUESTIONED
"The report importantly does not question or even address
the science used or the conclusions reached -- by the EPA under
this and the previous administration -- that greenhouse gas
pollution pose a threat to the health and welfare of the
American people," an EPA source said.
Senator Inhofe said that the EPA relied heavily on the
U.N.'s climate science panel to make the finding, a claim
rejected by EPA administrator Lisa Jackson who has pointed out
it also relied on the National Academy of Sciences, the
National Research Council and others.
The EPA issued its endangerment finding after the Supreme
Court ruled in 2007 the agency could regulate the emissions
under the Clean Air Act. The agency had to conclude the
emissions were harmful before regulating them.
Since then the EPA has embarked on rules to reduce the
emissions from sources including power plants, oil refineries
Last week the Republican-controlled House passed a bill to
block the EPA rules, saying they would cost industry billions
of dollars and kill jobs. But the measure faces an uphill
battle in the Senate and President Barack Obama has vowed to
veto it. [ID:nS1E78M1HT]
Environmentalists said the report did nothing to question
"Nothing in this report questions the agency's ability to
move forward with global warming emissions rules," said
Francesca Grifo, the science integrity director at the Union of
"The inspector general made it clear that EPA followed
current guidelines for ensuring that it based its decision on
robust scientific analysis."
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by David Gregorio
and Bob Burgdorfer)