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 PruittWith offshore drilling scheme, Trump's America looks like a banana republic Overnight Energy: California regulators vote to close nuclear plant | Watchdog expands Pruitt travel probe | Washington state seeks exemption from offshore drilling plan Overnight Regulation: Fight erupts over gun export rules | WH meets advocates on prison reform | Officials move to allow Medicaid work requirements | New IRS guidance on taxes 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 ObamaMcCarthy: ‘No deadline on DACA’ Democrats will need to explain if they shut government down over illegal immigration Trump’s first year in office was the year of the woman 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 BartonGOP leaders pitch children's health funding in plan to avert shutdown Week ahead: House GOP looks to revamp Energy Department Republicans on the run: Retirements could be trouble for Trump and party 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 TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: 'Sheet metal and garbage' everywhere in Haiti 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.”