21 Jan 2010, 5:14pm
Climate and Weather Politics and politicians
by admin

The EPA and the Data Quality Act

Last week Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), Sen. David Vitter (La.), Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (Wis.) sent a letter [here] to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson expressing concern that the EPA’s recent “endangerment finding” regarding CO2 violates the Data Quality Act.

I’m guessing you never heard of the Data Quality Act (DQA). I hadn’t, either, until today. The DQA is not an Act per se; it is a statute that was attached to an appropriations bill in 2000 (Section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 — Public Law 106–554; H.R. 5658). Section 515 directed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to:

… issue government-wide guidelines that “provide policy and procedural guidance to Federal agencies for ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information (including statistical information) disseminated by Federal agencies.”

The OMB did so [here] by defining what the quality (including the objectivity, utility, and integrity) of information means, in the legal sense. The OMB guidelines also established:

… administrative mechanisms allowing affected persons to seek and obtain, where appropriate, correction of information disseminated by the agency that does not comply with the OMB or agency guidelines.

In the comment period prior to establishing the guidelines, concerns were expressed about whether the DQA applies to Federally funded scientific research. The OMB said no, unless:

… the agency represents the information as, or uses the information in support of, an official position of the agency.

Federally funded scientists can hold any opinion they want to (at least in regards to the DQA). However, any “information” used by a Federal agency in support of “an official position of the agency” must meet the quality guidelines.

This is a little bit tricky. If the research is Federally funded, and the researcher includes “an appropriate disclaimer … to the effect that the ‘views are mine, and do not necessarily reflect the view’ of the agency,” then that information is outside the purview of the DQA. But if the sponsoring agency “directs the person to disseminate the results, or the agency reviews and approves the results before they may be disseminated,” then the DQA does apply.

In sum, these guidelines govern an agency’s dissemination of information, but generally do not govern a third-party’s dissemination of information (the exception being where the agency is essentially using the third-party to disseminate information on the agency’s behalf).

What does data quality mean? According to the guidelines, qualifying information must be accurate, clear, complete, and unbiased, and must be presented with full, accurate, and transparent documentation. If the information is peer-reviewed (subjected to formal, independent, external peer review), then the objectivity criteria is satisfied, with the provisos that:

(a) peer reviewers [shall] be selected primarily on the basis of necessary technical expertise, (b) peer reviewers [shall] be expected to disclose to agencies prior technical/policy positions they may have taken on the issues at hand, (c) peer reviewers [shall] be expected to disclose to agencies their sources of personal and institutional funding (private or public sector), and (d) peer reviews [shall] be conducted in an open and rigorous manner.

Further, agencies were required to establish:

… administrative mechanisms allowing affected persons to seek and obtain, where appropriate, timely correction of information maintained and disseminated by the agency that does not comply with OMB or agency guidelines. …

Agencies shall specify appropriate time periods for agency decisions on whether and how to correct the information, and agencies shall notify the affected persons of the corrections made. …

If the person who requested the correction does not agree with the agency’s decision (including the corrective action, if any), the person may file for reconsideration within the agency. The agency shall establish an administrative appeal process to review the agency’s initial decision, and specify appropriate time limits in which to resolve such requests for reconsideration.

Meaning scientific information promulgated by agencies in support of their official positions can be challenged, and the agency must respond to those challenges. Theoretically, if the agency’s response does not satisfy, the appellant may seek judicial relief in Federal court, citing the DQA.

I don’t know if that has ever happened, but the possibility has cropped up regarding the EPA’s CO2 endangerment finding. The four Congresspersons’ letter refer to the Climategate emails and IPCC 4th Assessment as information the EPA relied upon that does not meet the tests of the DQA. They requested that EPA Admin Lisa Jackson conduct a review of the information the EPA used in their endangerment finding, and that she report to Congress as the whether the DQA was violated.

Chances are Jackson will either ignore the letter from Congress, or she may provide some excuses for the EPA’s compromising of the DQA. But the door has been opened to potential appeals and lawsuits, should “affected persons” (all of us) decide to legally invoke the DQA.

The situation is getting curiouser and curiouser. The CAGW (catastrophic anthropogenic global warming) hoax is disintegrating. There may be a fireworks display or two before the party is over.

21 Jan 2010, 5:36pm
by Mike

And more news along the same lines:

Murkowski tries anew to block EPA regulators

By ERIKA BOLSTAD, Anchorage Daily News, January 21st, 2010 [here]

WASHINGTON — Sen. Lisa Murkowski took her battle with the Environmental Protection Agency to the floor of the Senate today, saying she was left with no choice but to fight a federal agency she believes is “contemplating regulations that will destroy jobs while millions of Americans are doing everything they can just to find one.”

The Alaska Republican announced she would seek to keep the EPA from drawing up rules on greenhouse gas emissions from large emitters, such as power plants, refineries and manufacturers. Murkowski did it by filing a “disapproval resolution,” a rarely used procedural move that prohibits rules written by executive branch agencies from taking effect.

She threatened dire economic consequences if the EPA, rather than Congress, writes the rules for how to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Act. Both the White House and congressional leaders have said they prefer to write a law that would cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While the House of Representatives has passed such legislation, it has stalled in the Senate.

The EPA is working on regulations that will limit emissions by large producers of greenhouse gases as part of its compliance with a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring the agency to determine whether greenhouse gases endanger the country’s health and welfare.

If Congress fails to act, the EPA’s rules could set the standard for greenhouse gas emissions from big, stationary sources of pollution. Murkowski today re-emphasized her concern about an executive branch agency writing the rules rather than lawmakers. …

21 Jan 2010, 9:50pm
by Mike

The DQA may have ramifications for issues other than climate and agencies other than the EPA.

22 Jan 2010, 4:05pm
by H.F.

I’ve heard of the DQA and asserted it on numerous occasions from 2002 through 2006 to both the Services and the OMB. I challenged listing by omission and manipulation of data with supporting documentation of each challenge.

It produces nothing as there is little or no integrity in so many federal Departments and agencies. As with “Hide The Decline” data is designed to meet the objectives of the goal. This criminal element within the federal agencies prevails because they know they can subjugate the opposition until litigation occurs. Even then the courts are likely to accept poor data as truthful. Federal employees have been given a free pass to lie, cheat or to do whatever else it takes to achieve the goal.

For all good intentions of statutes written to protect citizens and industry I’ve yet to see one work for us the way it was meant to. That doesn’t mean we should stop looking for the silver bullet.



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