A resolution calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reopen and review its finding that carbon dioxide poses a danger to human health and the environment was presented to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force (EEA) at the organization’s States and Nation Policy Summit in Nashville, Tennessee.
The resolution drew much media attention and was withdrawn by its sponsors after objections from environmental activist groups and from corporations that provide funding for ALEC, including green energy companies that profit from restrictions on energy supplied by coal.
Citing the Scientific Research
The resolution stated the lines of evidence EPA used to support the endangerment finding have been undermined by subsequent research, justifying reopening the finding for reconsideration. Resolution Calling For EPA Review Of The 2009 Endangerment Finding For Greenhouse Gases read in part:
“The 2009 endangerment finding relied on three lines of evidence: (1) basic physical understanding of the effects of changing concentrations of greenhouse gases; (2) indirect, historical estimates of past climate that suggest recent temperature changes are unusual; and (3) computer-based climate models which project future climate changes,
“WHEREAS, since the 2009 endangerment finding, observed evidence and research has cast serious doubt on all three lines of evidence,
“WHEREAS, estimates of climate sensitivity to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases appearing in the scientific literature since 2009 have fallen steadily below the estimates used by EPA, which contradicts the first line of evidence,
“WHEREAS, research has shown that recent changes in temperatures, sea level rise, and the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events are not unusual in the historic and geophysical record, which contradicts the second line of evidence,
“WHEREAS, the climate models relied upon by the EPA have forecast twice as much warming as has been reported by satellite, balloon, and even unadjusted surface monitors, which contradicts the third line of evidence,
“WHEREAS, the 2009 endangerment finding has been used as the basis for subsequent efforts to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases,
“WHEREAS, President Donald Trump and members of his administration have consistently stated that regulation of carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act is unnecessary, ineffective, and economically destructive,
“WHEREAS, so long as the endangerment finding remains in place, efforts to roll back unnecessary environmental regulations adopted in the name of fighting global warming will likely fail,
“THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the legislature of the State of _______ calls upon the Environmental Protection Agency to reopen and review the 2009 endangerment finding for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.”
Fake ALEC Opposition
The resolution, cosponsored by Connecticut state Rep. John Piscopo (R), a member of ALEC’s board of directors, was added to the EEA task force’s meeting agenda.
In the days leading up to the meeting, Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and ExxonMobil sent letters to EEA members urging them to defeat the resolution. Committee members also received an email purportedly from ALEC opposing the resolution and pointing them to a related Facebook account calling the resolution “radical.” ALEC was officially neutral on the resolution and had not sent the email opposing it to EEA task force members, but it failed to inform them of this fact. This led to confusion within the task force.
In an EEA subcommittee meeting at the December summit, Steve Milloy, founder of Junkscience.com and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News, gave a presentation explaining the facts behind the resolution and said ALEC should adopt it. Milloy provided attendees with facts concerning the science behind the endangerment finding. Although those who spoke in opposition to the resolution provided no evidence refuting the information Milloy provided, several ALEC board members made intimidating statements to task force members immediately after Milloy’s presentation and asked for the resolution to be withdrawn or voted down.
Despite a straw vote among legislative members of the task force indicating a majority supported the resolution, Piscopo and resolution cosponsor Bette Grande, a research fellow with The Heartland Institute who had chaired the EEA taskforce when serving as a state representative from North Dakota, agreed to withdraw the resolution from consideration to end the strife within the task force.
President to Decide
“This resolution calling for a review of the EPA’s endangerment finding is an important policy debate on government regulations and our freedoms,” Piscopo told Environment & Climate News after the task force meeting. “It is an opportunity to work on issues that aid in the education of state legislators.”
Grande says the Trump administration will ultimately decide the fate of the endangerment finding, regardless of ALEC’s action.
“The final decision on this issue will be made by the Trump administration,” said Grande. “This was an opportunity to begin the dialogue with policymakers about the truth surrounding the endangerment findings.
“That there was such fear about having a conversation on the facts about climate change is very telling concerning the problems this country faces in getting the truth before a national audience,” Grande said.
‘Profits … Above Sound Science’
In a press release commenting on the decision to withdraw the resolution, former Kansas state Rep. Tim Huelskamp, president of The Heartland Institute, said the pressure put on members to pull the resolution was no surprise.
“The reaction is disappointing but not surprising,” said Huelskamp. “Big corporations like ExxonMobil and trade groups like EEI have long been members of the discredited and anti-energy global warming movement.
“They’ve put their profits and ‘green’ virtue signaling above sound science and the interests of their customers,” Huelskamp said.
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute.
The Heartland Institute, “Heartland Institute Statement on Alec Endangerment Finding Resolution,” December 7, 2017: https://heartland.org/news-opinion/news/heartland-institute-statement-on-alec-endangerment-finding-resolution