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EPA Climate-Change Procedures Fell Short, Inspector Reports

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Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency failed to follow all needed procedures when deciding whether greenhouse gases pose a danger to the public, the agency’s inspector general said.

An EPA employee sat on the 12-member scientific panel reviewing the technical analysis, and the committee’s recommendations weren’t made public, according to a report released today by the agency watchdog’s office.

“It is clear that EPA did not follow all required steps for a highly influential scientific assessment,” Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins Jr. said in a statement today.

The report didn’t question the scientific studies behind the determination, and the White House Office of Management and Budget, which established the process, disagreed with the inspector general’s conclusions.

The budget office “is confident that EPA reasonably interpreted the direction provided and is complying appropriately,” Meg Reilly, an OMB spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled the EPA had authority to regulate greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, under the Clean Air Act if the agency declared them a danger to the public. The EPA issued its so-called endangerment finding in December 2009, clearing the way for the agency to control emissions linked to global climate change from power plants, factories and other sources.

Inhofe, EPA React

“This report confirms that the endangerment finding, the very foundation of President Obama’s job-destroying regulatory agenda, was rushed, biased, and flawed,” Senator James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican who requested the inspector general’s examination, said in a statement. It “undermines the credibility of the endangerment finding.”

The EPA said the inspector general’s findings on the process shouldn’t distract from the results.

“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 poses a threat to the health and welfare of the American people,” the agency said in an e-mailed statement. “The report is focused on questions of process and procedures.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Drajem in Washington at mdrajem@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at lliebert@bloomberg.net

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