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EPA's Endangerment Finding Must be Abandoned

May 11, 2017

Unless Trump instructs the agency to review and rescind the Endangerment Finding, he is simply treating the symptoms of this problem and not curing the disease.

President Donald Trump recently visited my home state of Wisconsin, where I was born and raised on a dairy farm, to sign his “Buy American, Hire American” executive order. This gesture is symbolic, at best. If Trump truly wishes to create manufacturing jobs for Americans, he must make the United States more competitive on the global stage by reforming the tax code and rescinding jobs-killing environmental regulations.

Trump has already signed an executive order instructing the Environmental Protection Agency to rescind the Clean Power Plan and other Obama-era climate change regulations, but unless he instructs the agency to review and rescind the Endangerment Finding, he is simply treating the symptoms of this problem and not curing the disease.

The Endangerment finding is a ruling enacted by the Obama administration in 2009. It states that greenhouse gases are responsible for contributing to climate change and thus “endanger” the public health and welfare of current and future generations.

Because the EPA determined that greenhouse gases pose a threat to public health and safety, the EPA is required to regulate these gases under the Clean Air Act. However, the scientific basis for the Endangerment finding, while always circumspect, has eroded even further over the past several years.

The EPA’s technical support document relied heavily on the May 2007 Fourth Assessment Report produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That report included computer-created climate models that have systematically and utterly failed to accurately predict global temperature.

An average of the 102 computer models overestimates warming by a factor of two to three times, which means that the models were not even close to predicting temperatures that would later be observed by satellites.

Imagine a scenario in which a weather forecast is as accurate as the IPCC’s climate models. The forecast would predict that the temperature for the day would be 60 degrees Farenheit, but the actual temperature would end up being between 20 and 40 degrees. People relying on this forecast would not be prepared for the weather.

Models that cannot accurately predict short-term temperature trends should not be expected to produce reliable projections for future climate changes or, by extension, for long-term policy decisions.

One of the biggest reasons the models have been so woefully unable to accurately predict global temperature is because they assume that carbon dioxide will have a larger warming effect on the planet than has actually been observed. A 2013 paper by a group of scientists that previously led the modeling section for IPCC reduced their predictions of the impact of carbon dioxide by 33 percent.

The scientific underpinnings of the endangerment finding are fundamentally flawed. Unless it is vacated, groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club will argue in court the United States must keep the Clean Power Plan and other climate change regulations, and they will have a point.

If the Trump administration truly wants to put America first and provide opportunities for blue-collar Americans, it must undo the endangerment finding. If it doesn’t, the Clean Power Plan will not truly disappear, and if similar regulations are implemented by future administrations, it will cause thousands of people to lose their jobs and cost billions of dollars to the economy — all while only reducing global temperature by 0.02 degrees Celsius by 2100, an amount too small to be accurately measured by even the most sophisticated equipment.

Signing executive orders is an easy way to gin up publicity, but this administration must not shy away from doing the heavy lifting as well, by reversing the endangerment finding.

[Originally Published at the Virginian Pilot]

Article Tags
Environment
Author
Isaac Orr is a research fellow for energy and environment policy at The Heartland Institute. Orr is a speaker, researcher, and writer specializing in hydraulic fracturing, frac sand mining, agricultural, and environmental policy issues.
iorr@heartland.org