10 years in, CO2 regulation based on falsehoods, not science
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The website, The Energy Collective (EC), markets itself as “the world’s best thinkers on energy and climate.” Self-promotion is fine if results match the hype.

On the tenth anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Massachusetts v EPA, which opened the door for the regulation of carbon dioxide (CO2), EC published a piece trying to justify the Supreme Court decision and vilify the current EPA administrator for questioning whether CO2, which EC calls climate pollution, should be regulated by the EPA. When a nutrient is called a pollutant, objectivity has been relegated to a dark corner.


Unfortunately, “The Tenth Anniversary of Massachusetts v. EPA” piece is filled with inaccuracies designed to mislead and claim climate achievements that at best are illusory. Economist Ben Zycher of the American Enterprise Institute has shown that, using the EPA climate model, the temperature effect in the year 2100 of the entire Obama climate action plan is about 0.015 degrees with a standard deviation of about 0.1 degrees.


The piece claims that President George W. Bush refused to carry out his “responsibilities under the Clean Air Act to address climate pollution.” In passing the 1990 Amendments to the Clean Air Act, Congress explicitly denied EPA authority to regulate CO2 by removing authorizing language during the House Senate Conference. 

If the Supreme Court had given weight to the Conference Committee report, the matter should have ended there. Instead, the Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases could be defined as a pollutant under Section 2 of the Clean Air Act, and the EPA would have to regulate them if it concluded that emissions represented a threat to human health and the environment. 

Essentially, the court was following the Chevron case and granting deference to the agency. In doing so, the Supreme Court ignored its own ruling on scientific evidence — Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals.

In that decision the Supreme Court held that, “A key question to be answered in determining whether a theory or technique is scientific knowledge…will be whether it can be (and has been tested). Scientific methodology today is based on generating hypotheses and testing them to see if they can be falsified.”  The CO2 hypothesis has not been validated by experiment; only by models which have not been validated and have been shown to be flawed. 

The EC claims that regulating CO2 emissions “will prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths and 90,000 childhood asthma attacks every year,” similar to the EPA in its endangerment finding. Those claims are nothing more than the magic produced by tweaking a model to produce the desired answer. The incidence of asthma attacks has been increasing even as air quality has continued to improve. 

It is illogical to imply that cleaner air is causing these attacks but even cleaner air will reduce them. According to the CDC, there are 900,000 premature deaths annually. The EC and the EPA would have us believe that epidemiological methodologies are sufficiently precise to measure changes at the level of 0.004 percent (3600 divided by 900,000). No epidemiologist would make such a claim. 

Massachusetts v. EPA was a victory for political correctness and not one based on legal precedent or science. The time is ripe for Administrator Pruitt to expose the endangerment finding as fraudulent and begin the process of withdrawing.


William (Bill) O'Keefe is president and founder of Solutions Consulting, a firm that specializes in strategic counseling in public policy and management. Prior to working with Solutions Consulting, Bill served as senior vice president of Jellinek, Schwartz & Connolly's Environmental Management Practice and as executive vice president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.