EPA Response to Comments

Lost in the Climategate events has been the publication of EPA’s response to comments on the Endangerment finding on or about Dec 18, 2009.

Followers of the various IPCC gates will appreciate the following quotation from Volume 11 of the Responses:

As IPCC Chairman Rajendra K. Pachauri recently stated:

IPCC relies entirely on peer reviewed literature in carrying out its assessment

Pachauri continued:

The entire report writing process of the IPCC is subjected to extensive and repeated review by experts as well as governments. Consequently, there is at every stage full opportunity for experts in the field to draw attention to any piece of literature and its basic findings that would ensure inclusion of a wide range of views. There is, therefore, no possibility of exclusion of any contrarian views, if they have been published in established journals or other publications which are peer reviewed.

Volume 2 contains some discussion of recent events at CRU. There are a number of discussions of issues discussed at Climate Audit and in our papers. Monckton’s comment here was responded to in connection with its exposition of issues discussed by, among others, the NAS Panel, the Wegman panel and IPCC 2007:

The commenter also contends IPCC’s Third Assessment Report gave a proxy data series, which appeared to indicate that the present was warmer than any previous period in the past 600 years, 390 times the weight of a data series that appeared to show the MWP was warmer than the present, raising the question whether the two data series were objectively weighted. Further, the commenter asserts, the computer program that calculated the Mann et al. (1998 and 1999) hockey stick graph relied upon by IPCC in its 2001 report generated graphs indicating that the present is warmer than any previous period in the past 600 years, even when random red noise rather than genuine proxy temperature data was input to the program, raising the question whether the program had been tuned to bias the results so as to
overemphasize the comparative magnitude of recent warming.

To which EPA responded:

With respect to the allegation that an inappropriate weighting was used in IPCC 2001, we note that the comment does not adequately support this assertion. The comment includes a figure with two panels and claims the upper panel was given 390 times the weight of the lower panel, but fails to list the source of the panels or provide attribution for them. Thus, it is impossible to evaluate the whether the claim is reasonable and credible.

Regarding the comment about the “random red noise,” we find that the comment does not adequately support this assertion. The comment includes a figure (with two panels) intended to demonstrate that the
proxy data from Mann et al. (1998—in the upper panel) produces the same result as model with random red noise (in the bottom panel). However, the comment fails to list the source or provide attribution for
the panel showing the model results or describe any documentation for what model was used and how the results were obtained. Thus, EPA cannot evaluate whether these graphs provide reasonable and credible

Monckton’s comment refers to McIntyre and McKitrick (2003, 2005) as follows:

The unsatisfactory statistical methods in Mann et al. were thoroughly exposed by McIntyre & McKitrick (2003, 2005).

However, Monckton did not include a list of references. Thus EPA was stumped as to what to do.

Elsewhere, EPA did provide an odd sort of recognition with my name listed in bold in the Table of Contents of Volume 2 as below. Briffa’s post at CRU was quoted in full – but not my original criticism.

A number of commenters referred to blog posts at Climate Audit, which were dismissed by EPA as not being peer reviewed. No such observations was made about Briffa’s webpage on Yamal.

There is an entire volume about legal and procedural issues. Given the large number of comments, I can understand why EPA can’t respond to every comment. However, they are obligated to respond to all issues.

My submission raised issues with the peer review process at IPCC and elsewhere – that do not appear to have been dealt with in Volume 11. Questions about whether EPA had properly ensured that IPCC peer review processes met the statutory standards required for EPA reliance and whether EPA had carried out the required due diligence to ensure that the peer review processes met those standards.

The various IPCC-gates since the publication of the EPA responses make these questions even more pertinent today – and the failure of EPA responses to respond to these issues more apparent.

Take a look at the site.


  1. Nicholas
    Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 6:57 PM | Permalink

    I typed “McIntyre & McKitrick 2003, 2005” into Google (no quotes) and the second result is:

    Click to access mcintyre.mckitrick.2003.pdf

    So, does this mean that the EPA doesn’t know about Google, or doesn’t know how to use it?

  2. Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 7:02 PM | Permalink

    EPA speak with forked tongue. You would have thought they’d be more careful than ignite a flame like this in the blogosphere, though. Surely if any of these govt. funded advocacy institutions have learned anything these past couple of years, it’s that CA, WUWT and Bishop Hill etc cannot be ignored.

    More to the point, though, ignoring your submission will not make it go away. I’m sure they wish it would, but the fact is that they really are no longer the gate-keepers of public understanding of GHG, CC or AGW.

  3. Jimchip
    Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 7:17 PM | Permalink

    Did the EPA response as seen from Vol II include due diligence?

    I’ll focus on:

    “However, Monckton did not include a list of references. Thus EPA was stumped as to what to do.”

    Hmmm, send him an email and ask? It could be that here, where Monckton asks them to read his longer, “Red Flag” statement “March 30, 2009 letter to Representatives Markey and Barton” that Monkton had a typo:
    “http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/markey_and_barto n_letter.pdf”

    I took the liberty of deleting a space from markey_and_barto n_letter.pdf and, magically, this popped up with clear, in body references like (Red flag 12): “The unsatisfactory statistical methods in Mann et al. were thoroughly exposed by McIntyre & McKitrick(2003, 2005). In all material respects, the findings of McIntyre & McKitrick were powerfully endorsed bya detailed investigative study by three statisticians at the instigation of the House (Wegman, 2005).

    I presume EPA knows who markey_and_barton are and could correct the typo.

  4. mpaul
    Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 7:34 PM | Permalink

    “we note that the comment does not adequately support this assertion.”

    I wonder if they dismissed all comments that did not follow Strunk and White’s rules of bibliography or only those they disagreed with?

  5. Greg Cavanagh
    Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 7:54 PM | Permalink

    snip – policy and editorializing

    • Posted May 19, 2010 at 2:39 PM | Permalink

      Are You sure that editorializing is true?

  6. Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 8:14 PM | Permalink

    Methinks that there are plenty of grounds for legal challenges of the EPA’s “endangerment” finding.

    I do wish that Monckton was a little more thoughtful and patient at times. This might have allowed him to avoid some of his more glaring errors.

    • Peter
      Posted Jan 31, 2010 at 12:29 AM | Permalink

      Sj re Monckton you are probably right, but then again the man carries a huge international workload and we have Steve and Anthony who undertake the considered and deliberate role with panache and distinction. Monckton certainly gets attention. He has just been in Australia and NZ. Here in NZ he got his message on the National breakfast television show, and did quite well (I thought).

  7. Jimchip
    Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 8:17 PM | Permalink

    The Finding itself, the TSD, Vol. 1, Vol. 7 also have -gated issues. I find an over-reliance on IPCC scenarios. Some statements in the finding wrt regional impacts are as wacky as WWF/NWF. Claims wrt NRC input have also become suspect given previous topics, including ‘winging it’. Maybe US EPA should be outsourced to the UN: WEPA, for World EPA. Then, the US could get some environmental professionals, like ones that do CPI’s…(that previous topic).

  8. deadwood
    Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 8:34 PM | Permalink

    Given the recent revelations regarding the IPCC’s use of anecdotal evidence and non-peer reviewed literature in reaching its conclusions, I will not be very surprised if the EPA finds itself in big legal troubles should they proceed.

    They have, as I understand, until the end of April to get their regulations out. That’s eight or nine weeks to weigh their legal position. However with so many of the same people working with the EPA on its regulation being part of the same group that brought us AR4, perhaps they are not seeing (or believing) how the tide has turned.

    Anyway, if they do release the new rules, it won’t be long before both environmentalists and business take them to court (for opposite reasons). I plan on buying a BIG bag of popcorn.

  9. Howard
    Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 8:40 PM | Permalink

    There are enough weasel words by EPA/IPCC/CRU/etc. to deflect any scientific failure scenario that may be revealed in an audit.

  10. theduke
    Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 9:18 PM | Permalink

    I know I’m venturing into policy and politics here – snip

    Steve: so please don’t.

  11. Dr Iain McQueen
    Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 9:28 PM | Permalink

    This EPA response is curious, to say the least.
    While it is presumably true that they entered this fray under guidance of their political masters, or are lead by true believers, they seem here to be exposing themselves now to such severe and demonstrable criticism, that it almost appears they seek to fall on the issue. One wonders if they now operate under different political guidance!? Has somebody said “Och, give it up, say anything you like. It doesn’t matter now”?
    The response is self evidently so sloppy, inadequate and inaccurate, so provocative that either the depth self delusion of the leadership due to their belief system is clouding judgement, or they truly wish to fail in a court of law.
    I think a large number of science correspondents including those of the main stream media will be readers of this blog commentary by now. Even the most convinced AGW believers amongst them will be incredulous at the tone and content of the EPA response that they must report the matter dispationately….surely… The more so in the light of recent illumination of IPCC. as mentioned above. I am almost speechless.

  12. Brooks Hurd
    Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 9:38 PM | Permalink

    With Browner in charge of the EPA, the response was predictable.

  13. ChrisJ
    Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 9:42 PM | Permalink

    Incredible. To paraphrase from The Princess Bride – “Peer-review” – I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

  14. Dr Iain McQueen
    Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 9:51 PM | Permalink

    re Dr Iain McQ
    Correction ‘dispassionately’ – woops

  15. BarryW
    Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 9:56 PM | Permalink

    Now Anthony has a blog entry showing they used an article in a climbing magazine as a source as well as a student dissertation that relied upon anecdotes<a href="http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/01/30/gate-du-jour-un-climate-change-panel-based-claims-on-student-dissertation-and-magazine-article/#more-15858"WUWT&quot;.

  16. You know who
    Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 10:11 PM | Permalink

    Write some peer-reviewed papers. At least the writing would be better because of editorial control and you’d use actual reference notes. This place is a mess. Not reasonable to ask people to read your rambling “research notebook”, Steve.

    Steve: I sent in a reasonably well-written submission to EPA that did not require them to consult Climate Audit. Regardless of what you may think of my writing style, I think that my submission stands up well as compared to other submissions that I browsed.

    • Peter
      Posted Jan 31, 2010 at 12:38 AM | Permalink

      Why don’t you make some real contribution here apart from nit picking?
      You appear confused it is not the role of ‘skeptics’ to have to do peer reviewed studies. It is enough to demonstrate by way of logical argument or reference to other studies or data that there are deficiencies in a particular paper or study. Steve has done this a number of times and in case it has escaped your notice he and his colleagues have had a profound impact on the science of climate change and the way it is conducted.
      Students will be looking at his contributions for decades to come, Think about it!

    • Barclay E MacDonald
      Posted Jan 31, 2010 at 4:27 AM | Permalink

      “Not reasonable to ask people to read”… Climate Audit? Have you noticed how many people are doing so, and who they are? I’ve been addicted to this blog since 2006, and can hardly let a day pass without it.

      But maybe you are setting the bar to high. You are no doubt now engrossed in Return to Almora by Rajendra Pachauri. Admittedly, Steve M. has not reached such lofty literary hieghts with this blog. We can only hope.

    • You know who
      Posted Jan 31, 2010 at 9:03 AM | Permalink

      I’m not responding to your submission, Steve, but the general snarkiness about peer review (with scare quotes etc.) within this headpost (and other places).

      And it’s not some esoteric “style” criticism, Steve. You just don’t even do basic synthesis. Don’t use footnotes, etc. Don’t quantify extents. Don’t clearly make assertions, rather than snark and “research notebook” ramblings, so that others can engage. This place is a mess. It’s not reasonable to ask people to parse blog postings. If you want work understood, write a paper. That is the simplest and most efficient way for others to process information.

      • Peter
        Posted Jan 31, 2010 at 1:09 PM | Permalink

        Oh, I get it now. Because Steve doesn’t conform to your narrow and restricted world view, his opinions should not be heard; that they are less valuable. What a quaint and outdated notion. Of course he could do what the IPCC does and dredge up some obscure comment in a little read magazine and call it peer reviewed, cutting edge science. Would that make you happy?

      • Chris Polis
        Posted Jan 31, 2010 at 7:49 PM | Permalink

        Ever considered that most people would rather ‘parse’ a blog post than a scientific paper, especially in a field that they are not particularly familiar with? Scientific papers are not know for their readability…

  17. Jimchip
    Posted Jan 30, 2010 at 11:52 PM | Permalink

    Regarding RTC Vol. 1

    My comments in []

    “Response (1-44):
    We respond to the relevant assertions in Lord Monckton’s testimony and in his follow-up letter to
    Representatives Markey and Barton in the appropriate Response to Comment volumes. In his letter, Lord
    Monckton enumerates 50 “red flags”
    which represent scientific irregularities in statements or conclusions
    made by prominent climate scientists, in the assessment literature, and/or in our TSD. We address most of
    these, but note that some of the “red flags” apply specifically to statements made by individuals (e.g.,
    Vice President Al Gore, scientists who testified before Congress, congressional members), which only
    they could reasonably respond to and which we found to be extraneous to the assessment literature and/or
    statements in the TSD.”

    [At least I found that they did read Monckton’s “Red Flag” Statement]

    “Response (1-4):
    See Section III.A. of the Findings, “The Science on Which the Decisions Are Based,” for our rationale on
    the approach to the scientific literature and our decision that it was not necessary nor logical for EPA to
    conduct an additional and separate review
    of the underlying climate data and research. We respond to the
    specific comments regarding the assessment literature (e.g., inappropriate review process) and the
    information quality guidelines separately below.”

    [EPA needs to revisit decision re: not necessary nor logical]

    “Response (1-5):
    We disagree with the commenter’s assertion that EPA does not have purview or expertise in the climate
    science issues discussed in the TSD. … EPA was also involved in a review of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), and in particular took part in the approval of the summary for policymakers for the Working Group II volume, Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability.”

    [If that’s the EPA basis for expertise…]

    “Response (1-10):
    …the purpose of the federal expert review was to ensure that the TSD accurately summarized the conclusions and associated uncertainties from the assessment reports. The federal experts were ideal candidates because they have contributed significantly to the body of climate change literature and played active roles in IPCC and CCSP…”

    [Reviewers reviewing their previous reviews]

    “Comment (1-11):
    Two commenters (3187.5, 3729.1, and 3764.1) argue that EPA should once again review the comments
    received on the TSD for the (ANPR) on Regulating Greenhouse Gases Under the Clean Air Act regarding
    the use of IPCC and CCSP reports.
    Response (1-11):
    EPA received a number of comments specifically focused on the TSD during the 120-day public
    comment period for the 2008 ANPR…”

    [more defense of IPCC, a constant refrain]

    “Response (1-12):
    EPA has reviewed and considered the NIPCC report and found that it lacks the rigorous procedures and
    transparency required
    to serve as a foundation for the endangerment analysis.”

    […but the IPCC, now, they’re good?]

    “Response (1-14):…EPA has both evaluated and participated in the development and review of IPCC reports, and the IPCC process is transparent and rigorous. The IPCC ensures scientific credibility and legitimacy of its reports by fairly representing the range of scientific opinions on climate change, and the IPCC provides multiple opportunities for input from experts along the entire spectrum of opinions…we note that the IPCC has a
    robust and transparent process for reaching consensus and properly documenting instances where consensus is not met. IPCC’s Principles (IPCC, 2006) state that:”

    [EPA is tied to IPCC…’hook, line, and sinker’]

    “Comment (1-15):
    A commenter (3303) argues that the IPCC AR4 relied upon non-peer reviewed, unsupportable studies
    rather than peer-reviewed literature.

    Response (1-15):
    The IPCC Procedures (IPCC, 1999) used in preparing its assessment reports are described above and can
    be viewed in Appendix A of this volume. The IPCC provides a robust process for ensuring that the best
    available scientific information is used in their assessment report development process. The IPCC (2007)
    relied almost exclusively on peer-reviewed, published information and we note that IPCC procedures
    require reliance on peer-reviewed literature except in specific instances. IPCC’s guidelines state that
    “Contributions should be supported as far as possible with references from the peer-reviewed and
    internationally available literature…” (IPCC, 1999). Limited unpublished material was included only if it
    was justified in the context of the IPCC assessment process and completely accessible.

    [Completely refusing to acknowledge the possibility of what has now come to light]

    “Response (1-48):
    Please see Volume 1: Section 5 of this Response to Comments document for EPA’s general response to
    the information quality concerns submitted during the public comment process. In addition, please see
    previous responses to comments in this section on EPA’s treatment of uncertainty regarding specific
    issues in the TSD…[Table referencing Karl, Karl et al., 2009). can’t help but show a Phil-mail and a Santer-mail]

    The EPA responses are highly repetitive in defense of IPCC and other non-independent assessments so it’s not too hard to assess the responses. EPA also uses IPCC ‘Principles’ statements for responses as if they were actually practiced.

  18. Dave L.
    Posted Jan 31, 2010 at 8:06 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for the reference to the EPA site above. I wrote multiple comments to the EPA endangerment proposal. It is interesting to see how they “dismiss” comments. I wrote particularly on cold-weather related deaths versus warm-weather related deaths (cold weather deaths predominate significantly due to diseases such as influenza and pneumonia). The EPA’s response relies heavily upon Karl et al 2009, which in turn references a CDC Weekly Morbidity & Mortality Report on heat related deaths from 1999-2003, specifically where the term hyperthermia occurred as a primary or contributing cause of death on death certificates. Well, they go on to claim that increasing global temperatures per the IPCC scenarios will produce more heat waves and therefore conclude that more deaths from hyperthermia will occur (double or quadruple the number depending upon which scenario) in conjunction with the increasing elderly population, the most vulnerable group to succumb from hyperthermia. So its all mythical numbers predictions on possible scenarios; its impossible to argue against prediction data based upon worst case scenarios. Mind you, hyperthermia is a simple entity to avoid via education, behavior, and air conditioning. Simple adaptation principles and the “endangerment” ceases to exist. And the argument is entirely one-sided: No one investigates potential lowering of death rates from reduction of cold-weather related deaths should indeed global warming occur. It is very frustrating to deal with such bureaucracy.

  19. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Jan 31, 2010 at 12:37 PM | Permalink

    I think it is most informative to show that the FOIA and the EPA appeals/comments processes , in theory at least, work according to the rules set down for the processes involved, but that in practice, it can be shown that the processes do not necessarily follow theie own rules and for very critical issues. In the end, these processes appear arbitrary, except possibly to those who would defend these actions based on the side the processes come down on.

    Showing the deficiency is not, however, the same as obtaining a correction based on appeal. I heard a member of Judicial Watch explain recently that their organization and others like them, and including the media, will start with appeals to a process such as an FOIA request, but in the end what is required to make the system “work” is that these organizations sue the agencies to bring to light the issues through discovery.

    In other words, the appeals processes of these government agencies provide only a foot in the door and have to be followed with legal action in order to provide any hope for fruition.

  20. Joe Crawford
    Posted Jan 31, 2010 at 1:08 PM | Permalink

    re Dr Iain McQueen (Jan 30 21:28), I do find it interesting that the EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, with a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisa_P._Jackson), would allow such an obviously flawed document to be issued. Apparently, she has either become a ‘true believer’ in AGW or has delegated a bit too much responsibility without proper oversight. From the Wikipedia:

    “On December 8, 2009, Lisa Jackson said in a written statement that the finding, which declares carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases a threat to public health, marks the start of a U.S. campaign to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.

    • Dr Iain McQueen
      Posted Jan 31, 2010 at 1:29 PM | Permalink

      My point was really that the EPA response is so riddled with flaws, that I believe the political masters may have said to them “It doesn’t matter – the American people were never really that keen on this AGW story, never mind Bushes ‘hesitant’ attitude to accept the idea. Doesn’t matter if we have to let this one go. Could be safer come the election, d’you see. You can go down fighting if you want to, but you should go down.”

      • justbeau
        Posted Jan 31, 2010 at 3:13 PM | Permalink

        One way to champion Global Warming is to invite a huge number of public comments. Lump them together and write legalistic or otherwise trivial replies. In this way, the thrust of comments, some of which may be reasonable, are obscured amid the vast number of comments and the mundane and trivial nature of official responses.

  21. CWells
    Posted Jan 31, 2010 at 7:25 PM | Permalink

    Given all this need for regulation, does anyone now where NOAA keeps the actual CO2 satellite data stored. Couldn’t find it in the SOS or Carbon Tracker, unless in files my mere work computer cannot access. But the lovely yearly gif. graphics at the CO2 Weather Movies shows a very strange phenom in the northern hemi I’d like to just check.
    All help welcome.

  22. Ken Keylor
    Posted Feb 1, 2010 at 4:16 PM | Permalink

    A couple of weeks ago I was in an audience where Gina McCarthy was outlining EPA’s plans to go forward with GHG regulation. When asked about “climategate” her response was quick (scripted?): “…the CRU emails were hacked and thus illegally accessed. Nonetheless, EPA relies on more sources than CRU, for example we get supporting science from National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation. It’s our position that the science of man-made global climate change is solid.”

    Question: how much “bad science” do you believe has leaked into these organizations as well?

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit highlighted recently, important institutions tend to believe Pachauri when he makes such claims. A December […]

  2. […] on point.) The points in my submission were not addressed in EPA’s responses to comments (see here) and there the matter seemed to […]

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