EPA Move To Increase Scientific Advisory Board Transparency Applauded
BY MICHAEL SANDOVAL Western Wire
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt announced Tuesday he planned to curtail the practice of distributing research grants to scientists appointed to the agency’s scientific advisory boards to improve their “independence and transparency and objectivity.”
“If we have individuals who are on those boards receiving money from the agency, sometimes, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, that calls into question the independence of the recommendations that come our way,” Pruitt said, speaking at a Heritage Foundation event. “Next week, I will issue a directive that addresses that, to ensure the independence and transparency and objectivity with respect to the scientific advice that we are getting at the agency.”
“Reforming EPA’s advisory boards will strengthen public trust in the EPA and the science the agency uses to justify its policies,” Thea McDonald, communications director for the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, told Western Wire.
“Chairman Lamar Smith has long advocated for a more balanced and transparent membership on the advisory boards, especially after conflicts of interest and a lack of transparency became prevalent during the Obama administration,” McDonald said. “In fact, the committee and the full House this year passed a bill by committee Vice Chairman Frank Lucas, the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act, to accomplish these goals.”
“It’s terrific that EPA chief Scott Pruitt is taking this long overdue step to eliminate the Obama EPA practice of stacking scientific advisory boards in order for them to rubberstamp EPA overregulation as science-based,” Steve Milloy, lawyer and author of “Scare Pollution: Why and How to Fix the EPA,” told Western Wire.
“For too long EPA paid outside scientists to publish agency friendly ‘science’ and then had the very same scientists review and approve their own research under the guise of independent peer review,” Milloy said.
Milloy, who served on the Trump EPA transition team, praised the work of the Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, for calling attention to this EPA practice, which Milloy called “corrupt” in a March 2012 op-ed.
“Senator Inhofe and the House Science Committee have been big champions of fixing this broken, if not illegal system. But their efforts have been thwarted by Senate Democrats trying to protect the unlawful EPA. This has left the task up to EPA chief Pruitt who is now taking action,” Milloy said.
“Chairman Smith looks forward to the official announcement from Administrator Pruitt next week and is supportive of his efforts to restore independence and objectivity to the advisory boards,” McDonald said.
In February 2016, Inhofe wrote to Obama’s EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, criticizing the lack of transparency and what he characterized as a revolving door, with EPA grant recipients receiving the prestigious appointments.
“I have observed EPA, under the Obama Administration, cherry-picking the same allies to serve on this advisory committee and its subcommittees at the expense of having an open and robust process for selecting external advisors,” said Inhofe. He pointed specifically to those chosen by EPA for its Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC).
“The majority of CASAC members have also received considerable financial support from EPA, which calls into question their independence and therefore the integrity of the overall panel,” Inhofe wrote.
Milloy’s 2012 research demonstrated that six of the seven CASAC members at the time had received or were still receiving research grant funding totaling nearly $80 million.
Milloy’s investigation was prompted by an exchange at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing that same year, when Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) pressed then-EPA administrator Lisa Jackson on whether such a practice yielded scientific objectivity, or was, as he outlined, inappropriate for the scientific advisory board.
“You fund research with grants to people who also serve on your review committees. Is this a conflict of interest? Almost every single member of your Clean Air Science Advisory Committee has been directly or indirectly funded for research,” Barton said. “This hand-and-glove policymaking by those appointed to also do your research and being funded by you at the same time is not appropriate. They are often asked to review other research they themselves were a party to on the original research team. How could one possibly expect them to be objective in any way?”
60 scientists call for EPA endangerment finding to be reversed
October 17, 2017
Electricity Consumers Fully Support Scientists’ Letter to EPA Calling for Immediate Reopening of its GHG Endangerment Finding
- This Letter from over 60 highly credentialed scientists states that: “We the undersigned are individuals who have technical skills and knowledge relevant to climate science and the GHG Endangerment Finding. We each are convinced that the 2009 GHG Endangerment Finding is fundamentally flawed and that an honest, unbiased reconsideration is in order.”
- The letter states further that: “If such a reconsideration is granted, each of us will assist in a new Endangerment Finding assessment that is carried out in a fashion that is legally consistent with the relevant statute and case law. We see this as a very urgent matter – – – – “
- The Concerned Household Electricity Consumers Council fully endorses the recommendations of these scientists because recent research has definitively validated that: once certain natural factor (i.e., solar, volcanic and oceanic/ENSO activity) impacts on temperature data are accounted for, there is no “natural factor adjusted” warming remaining to be attributed to rising atmospheric CO2 levels. That is, these natural factor impacts fully explain the trends in all relevant temperature data sets over the last 50 or more years. At this point, there is no statistically valid proof that past increases in atmospheric CO2concentrations have caused what have been officially reported as rising, or even record setting, global average surface temperatures (GAST.)
- Moreover, additional allnew, research findings demonstrate that adjustments by government agencies to the GAST record render that record totally inconsistent with published credible temperature data sets and useless for any policy purpose.
- These new results conclusively invalidate the claims based on GAST data of “record warming” in recent years, and thereby also invalidate the so-called “lines of evidence” on which EPA claimed to base its 2009 CO2 Endangerment Finding.
- If the Endangerment Finding is not vacated, whether the current administration likes it or not, it is certain that electric utility, automotive and many other industries will face ongoing EPA CO2regulation.
- This scientifically illiterate regulation will raise U.S. energy prices thereby reducing economic growth and jobs as well as our National Security.
- The Electricity Consumers Council therefore, based on this new scientific evidence, must insist that the EPA grant the “very urgent” request of these scientists“that an honest, unbiased reconsideration is in order.”
Finally, we know that many more scientists would have been pleased to sign this letter if they had only known about it. Scientists may ask to have their name added by simply sending their info to THSResearch@aol.com.
Full Letter with signatories at link below:
October 16, 2017
The Honorable Scott Pruitt
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460
Dear Administrator Pruitt:
You have pending before you two science-based petitions for reconsideration of the 2009
Endangerment Finding for Greenhouse Gases, one filed by the Concerned Household Electricity
Consumers Council, and one filed jointly by the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Science
and Environmental Policy Project.
We the undersigned are individuals who have technical skills and knowledge relevant to climate
science and the GHG Endangerment Finding. We each are convinced that the 2009 GHG
Endangerment Finding is fundamentally flawed and that an honest, unbiased reconsideration is
If such a reconsideration is granted, each of us will assist in a new Endangerment Finding
assessment that is carried out in a fashion that is legally consistent with the relevant statute and
We see this as a very urgent matter and therefore, request that you send your response to one of
the signers who is also associated with a petitioner, SEPP.
Kenneth Haapala, President
Science and Environmental Policy Project
P.O. Box 1126
Springfield, VA 22151
The Ever Rising Cost Of The Climate Change Act
By Paul Homewood
h/t Joe Public
In March this year, the Committee on Climate Change published their latest review of the impact on energy prices of government climate policies:
I cannot recall it making many headlines at the time, but, as Joe points out, it makes for interesting reading.
The key chart is this one:
By 2030, climate policies will be adding 6 pence per KWh to residential electricity bills, in addition to a small amount on gas bills. This equates to 28% of electricity bills by then.
Average annual electricity usage is about 4000 KWh per household, meaning an extra cost of £240.
It is worse than that, however, because government policy is to “encourage” people to electrify heating. Since gas is already a much cheaper option at about 4.6 per KWh, the impact of higher electricity prices on energy bills will be significant.
The CCC have not included the cost of smart meters in their calculations either, though in theory these should be covered by 2020 or soon after. Whilst it makes allowance for extra costs of intermittency, it also factors in what is called “the merit order effect”. This assumes that wholesale prices will fall because of the inroad of low-marginal cost renewables.
Similar costs will also be loaded onto non-domestic users, ie commercial, manufacturing, transport and public sector. The only slight exception will be those large manufacturing companies who qualify for compensation to offset carbon pricing.
Residential demand accounts for about 35% of total electricity, which last year was 304 TWh. However electricity demand is forecast to increase to around 379 TWh by 2030. Based on this figure, the 6 pence per KWh will mean that the cost of climate policies by then will be a horrifying £22.7bn a year, (all at current prices).
CCC also assume that wholesale electricity prices will steadily increase between now and 2030, predicated on substantially rising gas prices. (Again, this is at 2016 prices).
Why is this important? Because the higher the wholesale price, the lower the apparent subsidy to renewable energy is.
The report shows the sensitivities. Based on the arguably more realistic Low Gas price curve, the cost of climate policies would increase by a further £2462 million.
Added to the £22.7bn, this would leave us with a bill of £25.2bn. To put this into perspective, it would amount to about £900 per household.
Inevitably the CCC has tried to spin this by claiming that these increased prices would be offset by savings in energy consumption.
This ignores four factors:
1) Many energy saving devices and systems actually cost money in the first place.
More efficient lightbulbs, for instance, are much more expensive than the traditional sort. Whether or not they actually save money in the long run, you simply cannot claim the energy savings without offsetting against the higher purchase price.
The same applies to insulation, and many other examples.
2) The government is trying to claim credit for advances in product technology which may have happened anyway.
Cars nowadays probably give twice the mpg of those from thirty or so years ago. This has not happened because of government diktat, but because of the natural operation of the free market.
The same applies to many products.
What the government, together with their hired help, the CCC, are trying to do is take away from households the benefits of better technology, by using them to pay for climate policies.
3) Residential solar panels reduce domestic electricity consumption figures, as measured by the government. But, of course, solar panels also cost a lot of money, and may also subsidised via RHI schemes, which are funded by the taxpayer.
4) It is also undoubtedly true that reduced energy consumption has been the direct of higher prices. The biggest fall in domestic electricity took place between 2005 and 2011, a time when prices were rising rapidly and incomes falling.
Since 2014 there has been virtually no reduction at all. There is little indication that further large savings can be sustained into the future.