Republican Senators Seek Detailed Answers on EPA Climate Change Science, Modeling

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By Patrick Ambrosio

April 1 — Four Republican senators are seeking additional information from the Environmental Protection Agency on the science linking climate change to drought, hurricanes and increased temperatures, including an analysis of climate change modeling results.

In an April 1 letter, Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) asked EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to defend recent statements that there have been more frequent and more intense hurricanes and droughts and detail whether climate models have accurately predicted temperature increases.

The questions stem from a March 4 hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the EPA's fiscal year 2016 budget request.

During that hearing, Republican members of the committee asked McCarthy several questions about climate change, including a line of questioning from Sessions on increasing global soil moisture, fewer major hurricanes in recent years and other data points that he suggested don't support the existence of climate change.

In the letter, the senators said that none of the “clear and straightforward” questions on climate science asked during the hearing were directly answered by McCarthy. The senators asked McCarthy to provide data and analysis comparing Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate models with actual global average temperatures.

“Given that the Administration's proposal to fundamentally change the nature of domestic energy generation is based on the apparent need to avoid `devastating' climate impacts to the United States and the planet, it is imperative that the agency be candid and forthright in assessing the reality of this projection,” the senators said.

The letter requested that the EPA respond no later than April 21.

EPA Confident in Science 

EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia told Bloomberg BNA in an April 1 e-mail that the agency will respond to the letter and stands by the science and its models on climate change.

“The scientific record and numerous lines of evidence all point to the reality of climate change,” Purchia said. “Projecting with specificity the severity and location of various impacts notwithstanding, climate change is real, it threatens our health, security, our environment and our economy, and that’s why the administration is moving forward with solutions that both address the threat, increase our communities’ resilience, and leave a better world for future generations.”

At the March budget hearing, Sessions asked McCarthy to cite specific evidence that climate change modeling has proven to be correct. After McCarthy asked Sessions to clarify which models he was referring to, Sessions said it was “stunning” that the head of the EPA doesn't know about climate modeling.

Temperature Rise Comparison Requested 

In the letter, Sessions and the other senators requested that McCarthy provide an EPA-produced chart comparing the actual global average temperature increases with the predictions derived from IPCC climate models.

Additionally, the senators asked the EPA to detail the steps the agency has taken to review the accuracy of climate projections and how much of the EPA's fiscal 2016 budget request of $8.6 billion would be allocated to monitoring the accuracy of climate projections.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Ambrosio in Washington at pambrosio@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com