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Report criticizes EPA’s climate finding

Associated Press / September 29, 2011

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WASHINGTON - The Obama administration cut corners before concluding that climate-change pollution can endanger human health, a key finding underpinning costly new regulations, an internal government watchdog said yesterday.

Regulators and the White House disagreed with the finding, and the report did not question the science behind the administration’s conclusions. Still, the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general is sure to encourage lawyers, global warming doubters, and Republicans taking aim at the agency for what they view as job-killing environmental regulations.

The report said EPA should have followed a more extensive review process for a technical paper supporting its determination that greenhouse gases pose dangers to human health and welfare, a finding that ultimately compelled it to issue regulations to control greenhouse gases for the first time.

“While it may be debatable what impact, if any, this had on EPA’s finding, it is clear that EPA did not follow all the required steps,’’ Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins Jr. said.

The EPA and White House said the document did not require more independent scrutiny because the scientific evidence it was based on already had been thoroughly reviewed. The EPA had the document vetted by 12 specialists, although one worked for EPA.

The environmental agency said its work “followed all appropriate guidance.’’ EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has said her conclusions were based on the underlying science, not the agency’s summary of it.