EPA head: Anti-greenhouse gas declaration involved 'breach of process'

EPA head: Anti-greenhouse gas declaration involved 'breach of process'
© Greg Nash

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Court rejects new effort to stop kids' climate lawsuit | Baltimore is latest city to sue over climate change | EPA staffers worried about toxic chemical in Pruitt's desk Pruitt staffers worried about toxic chemical in his desk Andrew Wheeler must reverse damage to American heartland MORE said Thursday the Obama administration erred when it formally declared greenhouse gases a dangerous pollutant worthy of regulations in 2009.

Pruitt said former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaMontana governor raises profile ahead of potential 2020 bid Trump was right to ditch UN’s plan for handling migrants Ex-White House stenographer: Trump is ‘lying to the American people’ MORE’s EPA engaged in a “breach of process” when it relied on United Nations science for part of its endangerment funding for climate change-causing greenhouse gases.

“There was breach of process that occurred in 2009 that many believe wasn’t handled the proper way,” Pruitt told a House Energy and Commerce Committee subpanel.

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“But the Mass. v EPA decision, and the processes that followed involved both the Bush and Obama administration and that process, in 2009, I think, was short-shrifted.”

The Supreme Court’s Massachusetts v. EPA decision in 2007 determined that federal law had not declared greenhouse gases as dangerous enough to warrant regulations, and it directed the EPA to formally consider make such a conclusion.

Bush administration regulators put together a version of that endangerment finding, though it never took effect. Obama’s EPA concluded in April 2009 that greenhouse gases pose a threat to human health, opening the door to future regulations.

That endangerment finding is at the heart of EPA rules like the Clean Power Plan, the Obama-era regulation designed to slash pollution from power plants.

But even as Pruitt has tried to undo much of the Obama administration’s climate change agenda — including the power plant rule — he has not committed to revisiting or repealing the endangerment finding.

That's something conservatives have urged him to do. Rep. Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonLatina Leaders to Watch 2018 Unending Pruitt controversies leave Republicans frustrated Hillicon Valley: Judge rules Trump can't block Twitter users | ISIS content finds a home on Google Plus | Rubio rips ZTE demands as 'terrible deal' | Bill would protect kids' data MORE (R-Texas) joined the calls on Thursday, telling Pruitt to “go back and revisit the finding document.”

Pruitt also said Thursday he intends to announce his red team/blue team debate over climate science early next year.

Pruitt detailed plans this summer to conduct an internal debate over the validity of the scientific consensus behind climate change, which both he and President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff: Surveillance warrant docs show that Nunes memo 'misrepresented and distorted these applications' Chicago detention facility under investigation following allegations of abuse of migrant children Ex-Trump aide: Surveillance warrants are 'complete ignorance' and 'insanity' MORE have publicly doubted.

“It is something that I hope to be able to do, and announce, sometime beginning part of next year at the latest,” he said.

“That would be a process that would be focused on objective, transparent, real-time review of questions of answers around this issue of CO2.”