Friday, July 29, 2011

Inhofe Welcomes Latest EPA Delay on Ozone Regulation

Senator Inhofe welcomed the announcement Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that they have again delayed finalizing a costly new ozone rule.  The rule was scheduled to be unveiled by July 29, 2011, and this is the fourth time EPA has delayed its announcement. 

"Today's announcement that the Obama EPA will again delay imposing a costly new ozone standard is great news," Senator Inhofe said. "While EPA still insists they will move forward, time is clearly on our side to convince them to halt this job-killing agenda.

"EPA's new ozone standard is projected to be the most expensive regulation in American history: by EPA's own analysis, it could cost up to $90 billion annually.  And the outlook is bleak for jobs: another study finds that the rule could cause 7 million job losses by 2020, including 177,000 in Oklahoma.

"EPA is neither compelled by law nor science to revise the standard - in fact, the way in which the Agency is going about the reconsideration may itself be illegal. Given the magnitude of this decision on jobs and the economy, EPA must be held accountable.

"As long as the Obama EPA claims to be moving forward with this rule, I will ensure that Congress is providing the necessary oversight. We must do everything we can to expose the rule's harmful effects on businesses and working families."

In a letter sent Monday to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Senator Inhofe asked the administrator to explain thoroughly her decision to undertake a reconsideration of the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone, which was set to be unveiled by the end of the month.

Link to Letter  

This letter addresses Administrator Jackson's repeated claim that the Agency is legally bound to tighten ozone standards on the grounds that the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), created by the Clean Air Act (CAA) supports it.  But this is not case: this proposal comes on the heels of the revised 2008 ozone standard, which was lowered significantly from 84 parts per billion (ppb) to 75 ppb.  The CAA only requires a NAAQS revision "at least" every five years, so EPA is under no obligation currently to revise the standard.

Furthermore, the CAA specifically states that it is the role of the Administrator to exercise her independent judgment in determining the ambient level required to protect public health - she cannot rely solely on CASAC's recommendations.  Yet, because the Agency did not seek public comment on the reconsideration of the 2008 standard, it appears that Administrator Jackson has improperly relied on CASACs.  Under these circumstances, the current tightening of ozone NAAQS is not a reconsideration at all, but the proposal of an entirely new standard that does not follow the requisite process provided under the Clean Air Act.

Link to Letter

Link to Press Release: Sessions Leads Bipartisan Effort Asking EPA To Not Change Its Air Quality Standard

EPA's Pending Ozone Decision Could Cause 7 Million Job Losses by 2020       

U-TURN: Obama Nominee Wodder Admits No Proven Case of Groundwater Contamination from Hydraulic Fracturing

Senator Inhofe commented Friday on a surprising admission from Rebecca Wodder, President Obama's nominee to be the Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks for the Department of the Interior, who in a written response to a question from Senator Inhofe said, "Like Administrator Jackson, I am not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water..." This admission was revealed just a day after Ms. Wodder's testimony at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing in which she refused to retract her previous statement that hydraulic fracturing "has a nasty track record of creating a toxic chemical soup that pollutes groundwater and streams..."

"Even Rebecca Wodder, the former CEO of a radical environmental organization and an outspoken opponent of hydraulic fracturing, has now admitted before Congress that she is 'not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water,'" Senator Inhofe said.  "This is particularly noteworthy given Ms Wodder's refusal yesterday before the Senate Energy Committee to retract her previous statement that hydraulic fracturing 'has a nasty track record of creating a toxic chemical soup that pollutes groundwater and streams.'

"Of course, Ms. Wodder had to concede the point.  Her statement comes on the heels of testimony from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and other Obama administration officials who have said before Congress that there has not been a confirmed case of groundwater contamination due to the hydraulic fracturing process.

"Ms. Wodder has a clear record of outward hostility towards American energy development; because of this, she should not be confirmed as the next Assistant Secretary in the Department of Interior. I again request that President Obama withdraw her nomination. If he does not, it will be yet another example of this administration's war on affordable energy."

Full Text of Question and Answer

Senator Inhofe: Do you have reason to disagree with the statement of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who two months ago before a House Committee said, "I'm not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affect water", yes or no?  If yes, what is the reason to disagree with that statement?

Ms. Wodder: Like Administrator Jackson, I am not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water, although there are investigations ongoing.  My understanding is that the EPA is undertaking a comprehensive study of the possible impacts of hydraulic fracturing on water sources. 


WATCH: Obama Nominee Wodder Refuses to Retract Statement that Hydraulic Fracturing ‘has a nasty track record of creating a toxic chemical soup that pollutes groundwater and streams...'

WATCH: Obama Nominee Wodder Refuses to Retract Statement on Hydraulic Fracturing

At a Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing on Thursday, Rebecca Wodder, President Obama's nominee to be Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks for the Department of the Interior, refused to retract her previous statement that hydraulic fracturing "has a nasty track record of creating a toxic chemical soup that pollutes groundwater and streams..."


"Ms. Wodder's testimony today has only confirmed my initial concerns about her nomination," Senator Inhofe said. "During the hearing, Senator Murkowski provided an opportunity for Ms. Wodder to retract her previous statement that hydraulic fracturing 'has a nasty track record of creating a toxic chemical soup that pollutes groundwater and streams...'  Yet, she refused, proving herself to be beholden to an extremist environmental agenda.  Ms. Wodder's statement, of course, counters the testimony of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and several Obama administration officials who have repeatedly said before Congress that there has not been a single confirmed case of groundwater contamination due to the hydraulic fracturing process.

"The selection of Ms. Wodder for this position is a clear demonstration of the Obama administration's hostility towards natural gas development.  I am calling on the President to withdraw her nomination. If he does not, I will work with my colleagues to defeat her nomination in the Senate."


Inhofe Op Ed: Federal interference in energy development regulation a bad idea (The Hill)

Politico Pro: Republicans object to DOI nominee's past views on fracking, meat

Inhofe Troubled By Obama Administration Nomination of Rebecca Wodder

EPA Jackson 'Not Aware of Any Proven Case Where the Fracking Process Itself Has Affected Water'

Obama Administration: No Documented Cases of Hydraulic Fracturing Contamination


Sen. Murkowski

One last question and I think it will be very quick. This relates to the quote that Senator Barrasso made relating to hydraulic fracturing and this is your quote that "Hydraulic fracturing has a nasty track record of creating a toxic chemical soup that pollutes ground water." Senator Barrasso also mentioned that Administrator Jackson has told Congress that, there have been quote "No proven cases where the fracking process itself has affected water." Do you stand by your statement, if this is an opportunity to retract your statement, I'd like to give you that opportunity to do so.

Ms. Wodder

Thank you Senator Murkowski. As I've said, I believe natural gas is an important part of the energy mix for this country, I think that it needs to be approached in a careful way so at the same time we don't, as we're developing that resource, contaminate other important resources like clean water.

Sen. Murkowski

I agree with that, but do you agree or do you stand by your statement that there is a nasty track record of creating a toxic, chemical soup that pollutes groundwater?

Ms. Wodder

I believe there has been any number of press reports and also academic studies that have found  numerous incidences of both accidental and intentional spills of fracking fluids into surface and groundwater-

Sen. Murkowski

Even though the Administrator has said there are no proven cases where the fracking process itself has affected water?

Ms. Wodder

I think there is a distinction between the fracking process itself and activities surrounding hydraulic fracturing that have led to some contamination. Most companies operate responsibly and strive to avoid those sorts of accidental and occasionally intentional spills. There certainly have been many records of fines that have been levied against a few companies that have had those sorts of problems.

Sen. Murkowski

I take it you don't retract your statement.

In the News...Daily Caller: Inhofe bill would shine sunlight on regulation costs

Daily Caller

Inhofe bill would shine sunlight on regulation costs

By John Rossomando

July 23, 2011

Link to Article

Environmental regulations drain hundreds of billions of dollars from the U.S. economy each year, and it mostly goes unnoticed by the public.

But proposed legislation from Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe could make the cost of such government interference more transparent.

"Everybody here is focusing on spending and taxes," Inhofe said, "but what most people don't realize is the cost of regulation is just as much as the cost of all of the taxes ... it's just less detectable."

The legislation, known as the CARE Act, would require the U.S. Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency to publicize - in terms of jobs and money - the direct economic costs of the regulations they publish under the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

Inhofe's bill currently has more than 20 Republican senators onboard, and he hopes to attract support from centrist Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Inhofe contends that the EPA issues regulations without considering how they will affect the economy, and that it imposes regulations without taking into account whether or not they will kill jobs. (Rep. David Rivera reportedly under investigation by FBI, IRS)

EPA Deputy Administrator Mathy Stanislaus underscored the senator's point when he testified before a House subcommittee that his agency had not taken jobs into account when it issued regulations this year pertaining to coal ash and other fossil-fuel byproducts.

The CARE Act would require the EPA and the Department of Transportation to consider the impact on employment of all new air pollution regulations.

"The costs of the regulations on greenhouse gases are about $300 to $400 billion a year," Inhofe said. "The ozone regulation that he [President Obama] is about to announce next week is huge, and we are talking about some $90 billion."

Inhofe's bill would also establish a Cumulative Regulatory Assessment Committee comprised of the secretaries of agriculture, commerce, defense, energy, and labor, the chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisers, the EPA administrator, the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the president and CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, and the chief counsel of the Advocacy Office of the Small Business Administration.

This committee would be charged with evaluating the impact of regulations on employment in each segment of the economy, on production and labor demands in the manufacturing and commercial sectors, on the impact of domestic refining regulations on heating oil and petrochemical prices, and on the potential for undermining the U.S. manufacturing industry among others.

Inhofe has his eyes particularly fixed on the Obama administration's effort to administratively impose "cap and trade" rules. (Senate kills Cut, Cap and Balance)

"The outrage of the year is that we are not only trying to spend money to regulate things they couldn't do legislatively, but we are sending money to China so that they can regulate their industries," Inhofe said. "Here we owe China $1.2 trillion, and here we are talking about sending them money for their climate program."

Myron Ebell, director of energy and public policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told The Daily Caller that many of these regulations provide questionable cost benefits when public health gains are measured against job losses.

Ebell contends the Clean Air Act has successfully eliminated up to 98 percent of all particulate matter from the air that was responsible for creating smog, but new regulations initiated today have far more questionable justifications.

Inhofe points to the pending ozone regulations as an example of a regulation based in questionable science because no supporting research has been produced since 2008. The law bars an increase in ozone standards in the absence of new scientific research."There is in that same science today [evidence] to decrease from the levels that were in place in 2008," Inhofe said. "I would contend that not only is it immoral, but it is also illegal."

In the end, he believes the Obama administration's environmental regulations will only make energy more expensive and discourage employers from hiring additional workers.

"These regulations are a significant factor in our incredibly bad jobs numbers," Ebell said.

Former Kansas GOP Rep. Todd Tiahrt warns that increasing levels of regulation are jeopardizing the free-market system and slowly transforming the economy into a centrally planned and regulated one.

"They are regulating manufacturers and producers as to what they can and cannot do," Tiahrt said. "The proposed particulate-matter regulations coming out of EPA [is] trying to regulate what comes off of agricultural property, and they have started to regulate agricultural spraying right down to the nozzle.

"Right now we have more government than we can afford, and we are having more and more regulations."

The net result, Tiahrt says, is seen in jobs fleeing overseas to find a more favorable tax code and a more favorable regulatory environment. The uncertainty that comes along with heavy regulations, he adds, is "paralyzing the economic recovery."

Bipartisan Senators Fight Another Job Crushing EPA Regulation

Senator Inhofe joined Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) Thursday to send a bipartisan letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) regarding the need for legislation to protect cement industry jobs across America.  The bipartisan letter was signed by 25 Senators, including Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA).

In their letter, they speak out against Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations relating to the Portland Cement National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP).  Specifically, the EPA's redtape would reduce nearly 20% of domestic cement manufacturing capacity within the next two years.

The Senators request a balanced approach to legislation that gives the cement industry sufficient time to recover from the recession and comply with regulations.  If Congress does not act, it is estimated that the EPA rule will close or idle 18 cement plants, costing 1,800 high-wage jobs and a loss of up to 9 million tons of domestic production capacity.

In addition to Barrasso, Manchin and Landrieu, the letter was signed by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Dan Coats (R-IN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), James Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jim Risch (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Mark Rubio (R-FL), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), John Thune (R-SD), Pat Toomey (R-PA), David Vitter (R-LA) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).


Dear Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell,

As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to review aspects of the rules regulating the U.S. cement industry, we remain supportive of reasonable relief from regulations relating to the Portland Cement National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) that were finalized in September 2010.  These regulations threaten to reduce nearly 20% of domestic cement manufacturing capacity within the next two years.  Cement is the key ingredient in concrete, the foundation of American infrastructure.

The U.S. cement industry is suffering through its greatest decline since the 1930s with current employment down to a mere 15,000 high-wage jobs and less than $6.5 billion in 2009 annual revenues.  This represents a 25% reduction in employment and 35% reduction in revenues from pre-recession levels. At a time when the cement industry can least afford significant investments resulting from new mandates, industry analysts estimate that this single EPA rule will cost $3.4 billion in compliance costs, representing approximately 1/2 of the cement industry's annual revenues.  The EPA's own analysis estimates initial capital costs of $2.2 billion and ongoing annualized costs of $377 million.

Cement manufacturers do not oppose the regulation of emissions, and have a long history of working with EPA to craft reasonable standards to protect human health and the environment.  However, the Portland Cement Association (PCA) estimates that this rule will close or idle 18 cement plants, costing 1,800 high-wage jobs and a loss of up to 9 million tons of domestic production capacity.  Since 2007, the cement industry has already shed 4,000 high-wage jobs.  Moreover, due to the overly stringent standards in the rule, it will undermine incentives to upgrade existing facilities and build new, greenfield plants.

The U.S. cement industry is critical to U.S. construction and economic recovery.  Now is not the time to impose new regulations that displace American production and jobs overseas.  The increase of cement imports will come predominantly from developing countries with little to no emission controls compared to those that already exist in this country.  The net result would be both the increased import of foreign cement, and related increases in unregulated international emissions.

We wish to provide the U.S. cement manufacturers the opportunity to recover from the current recession and continue their work with EPA to reconsider aspects of the rule before embarking on a regulatory program that will significantly erode domestic cement capacity.  Legislation may achieve the twin goals of allowing sufficient time for the legal and administrative processes to move forward while giving cement manufacturers more time to recover from the recession, and therefore make the necessary investments that will be necessary to grow jobs.

We cannot afford to lose American jobs in an industry that is critical to U.S. infrastructure.  Due to our economy's dire financial situation, we request your support for providing a balanced policy approach to an important jobs issue by crafting reasonable legislative relief to allow the cement industry to play a vital and strategic role in the nation's economy now and in the future. 

Sessions Leads Bipartisan Effort Asking EPA Not To Change Its Air Quality Standard

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), along with 32 other U.S. Senators, sent a letter Tuesday urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency not to finalize its proposed air quality standards for ground level ozone.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is currently reconsidering the ozone standard that EPA selected in 2008.  EPA's own estimates suggest that the new standard could add $90 billion dollars per year to already high operating costs faced by manufacturers, energy producers, and other sectors.  Areas that will not be able to meet EPA's new ozone standard will face increased costs to businesses, restrictions on infrastructure investment, and limits on transportation funding. Recent studies indicate that each affected state could lose tens of thousands of jobs.

In addition to Senators Sessions and Landrieu, the letter was signed by Senators McConnell, Inhofe, Manchin, Blunt, Wicker, Vitter, Lugar, Moran, Isakson, Coats, Corker, Chambliss, Shelby, Cornyn, Thune, Hoeven, Hutchison, Barrasso, Murkowski, Roberts, Burr, Boozman, Enzi, Portman, Kyl, Johanns, DeMint, Cochran, Coburn, McCain, Grassley, and Hatch. 

Link to Letter   

A text of the Senators' letter follows:

July 24, 2011

The Honorable Lisa Jackson


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20460

Dear Administrator Jackson:

We are writing to express significant concerns regarding the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) reconsideration of the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground level ozone.  EPA's reconsideration is occurring outside the statutorily directed 5-year review process for NAAQS and without any new scientific basis necessitating a change in the 2008 standard.  Moreover, this decision will burden state and local air agencies that, in the current budgetary climate, can hardly cope with existing obligations.  Likewise, the economic impact of EPA's proposal, while not determinative in setting NAAQS, are highly concerning, particularly in light of the billions of dollars in new costs that EPA has acknowledged would be imposed on America's manufacturing, energy, industrial, and transportation sectors.  In light of EPA's intention to issue the final reconsideration rule by the end of July, the undersigned members of the United States Senate respectfully request that EPA continue its ongoing statutory review of new science, due in 2013, and not finalize the reconsideration at this time.

Regulatory Background

As you are aware, under the Clean Air Act (CAA), EPA establishes "primary" and "secondary" national ambient air quality standards for ground level ozone and other air pollutants.  Primary standards are those "the attainment and maintenance of which ... are requisite to protect the public health." 42 U.S.C. 7409.  While EPA must allow an "adequate margin of safety" when setting primary standards, the CAA's legislative history indicates that these standards should be set at "the maximum permissible ambient air level ... which will protect the health of any [sensitive] group of the population."  See S.Rep. No. 91-1196, 91st Cong., 2d Sess. 10 (1970) (emphasis added).  Secondary standards "specify a level of air quality the attainment and maintenance of which ... is requisite to protect the public welfare from any known or anticipated adverse effects associated with the presence of such air pollutant in the ambient air."  42 U.S.C. 7409.  Under Section 109(d)(1) of the CAA, EPA must complete a "thorough review" of the national ambient air quality standards "at 5-year intervals" and revise as appropriate.

Over time, EPA has tightened the ozone standard from 125 parts per billion (ppb) in the 1970s to 84 ppb in the 1990s.  In March 2008, after a review process that took eight years, EPA further revised the primary ozone standard to 75 ppb and made the secondary standard identical to the revised primary standard.  See 73 Fed. Reg. 16,436.  EPA determined in 2008 that the 75 ppb standard was adequate, but not more stringent than necessary, to protect public health.  Important decisions by state and local governments, businesses, and citizens have been made since that date in reliance on the 2008 standard. 

In January of 2010, less than two years after issuing the 2008 standards, EPA announced its decision to revisit EPA's 2008 decision and to set new NAAQS for ground level ozone.  This was a voluntary decision by EPA that was neither ordered by the courts nor mandated by law.  Nor does administrative reconsideration of the NAAQS contain the public participation and mandatory review of new science required under the ongoing statutory 5-year review process.  EPA's public statements indicate that the finalization of the new ozone standards could occur as soon as this month.

Significant Concerns with EPA's Current Approach

Several aspects of EPA's decision in this regard are troubling.  First, the standard selected by EPA may force most large populated areas of the United States into non-attainment status for ground level ozone.  In fact, a report by the Congressional Research Service in December 2010 made this point in very clear terms: "At 0.060 ppm [60 parts per billion], 650 counties-virtually every county with a monitor-exceeded the proposed standard."  Even EPA's own estimates suggest that the new standard could add $90 billion dollars per year to already high operating costs faced by manufacturers, agriculture, and other sectors.  Areas that will not be able to meet EPA's proposed new NAAQS will face increased costs to businesses, restrictions on infrastructure investment, and limits on transportation funding.  Recent studies indicate that each affected state could lose tens of thousands of jobs.

Second, EPA's new ozone standards are being finalized just three years after the agency's original decision.  This is at odds with the CAA's statutory NAAQS review process that includes mandatory reviews of new science and affords public participation and comment.  EPA is already more than three years into the current statutory five-year review cycle for the 2008 ozone NAAQS.  We are concerned that EPA's current ozone rulemaking is at odds with important procedures and safeguards afforded by the Clean Air Act.

Third, the new standards will create significant implementation challenges for the states and local air agencies that oversee nonattainment areas.  As you know, most states are facing constrained fiscal situations and meeting existing obligations is already difficult.   Many states will likely find it difficult if not impossible to develop and implement new compliance plans for the new standards.

For the foregoing reasons, we would respectfully urge EPA to withdraw the current proposed reconsideration and continue the ongoing 5-year NAAQS review process set forth in the Clean Air Act.

Link to Inhofe EPW Press Blog: EPA's Pending Ozone Decision Could Cause 7 Million Job Losses by 2020     

In the News...Fox News: Does NASA Data Show Global Warming Lost in Space?

Fox News

Does NASA Data Show Global Warming Lost in Space?

July 29, 2011

Link to Article

Has a central tenant of global warming just collapsed?

Climate change forecasts have for years predicted that carbon dioxide would trap heat on Earth, and increases in the gas would lead to a planetwide rise in temperatures, with devastating consequences for the environment.

But long-term data from NASA satellites seems to contradict the predictions dramatically, according to a new study.

"There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans," said Dr. Roy Spencer, a research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. science team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer -- basically a big thermometer flying on NASA's Aqua satellite.

"The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show," he said. The planet isn't heating up, in other words.

James Taylor, a senior fellow for environment policy at conservative think-tank The Heartland Institute, wrote at Forbes that the meaning of the new research is clear -- and it compromises what he called a "central premise of alarmist global warming theory."

"Real-world measurements ... show far less heat is being trapped in the Earth's atmosphere than the alarmist computer models predict, and far more heat is escaping into space than the alarmist computer models predict," Taylor wrote.

But with any story on the science of climate change, scientific truths are never so simple.

Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University, called Spencer a "controversial figure" within the climate research community. He argued that Spencer's paper is neither new nor correct.

"He's taken an incorrect model, he's tweaked it to match observations, but the conclusions you get from that are not correct," Dessler told

Many scientists believe that as the planet warms, more water vapor moves into the atmosphere. This water vapor exists as clouds, which trap more heat, creating a vicious loop.

Spencer sees it differently. He thinks that the whole cycle starts with the clouds. In other words, random increases in cloud cover cause climate warming. The cloud changes are caused by "chaos in the climate system," Spencer told LiveScience.

The truth of climate change remains murky, as always -- something even Spencer notes in his new paper.

"Atmospheric feedback diagnosis of the climate system remains an unsolved problem," he noted.

EPW Press Roundup: Polar Bear Scientist Suspended From Work

Bloomberg: Scientist Who Reported Polar Bears Drowning Is Suspended by U.S. Agency (07/28/11)  - A U.S. government wildlife biologist whose work contributed to the listing of polar bears as a threatened species has been suspended, according to a group that supports government scientists.  Charles Monnett, a researcher in Anchorage with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, was placed on paid administrative leave July 18 while the Interior Department's inspector general investigates "integrity issues," according to a copy of the suspension order provided by Washington-based Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility or PEER.  Monnett is overseeing several scientific studies that would affect decisions on permits for oil and gas development, according to PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. The group filed a misconduct complaint today against government officials on Monnett's behalf.  "All of the scientific contracts previously managed by Mr. Monnett are being managed by the highly qualified scientists at BOEMRE," agency spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz said today in an e-mail. Monnett's suspension was reported earlier today by the Associated Press.  In 2006, Monnett and a colleague reported observations of polar bears drowning in open waters following a storm. The paper, published in the peer-reviewed journal Polar Biology,was cited by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in its 2008 decision to list the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

APNewsBreak: Alaska Researcher Who Documented Polar Bears Demise in Arctic is Placed on Leave (07/28/11) - JUNEAU, Alaska - Just five years ago, Charles Monnett was one of the scientists whose observation that several polar bears had drowned in the Arctic Ocean helped galvanize the global warming movement. Now, the wildlife biologist is on administrative leave and facing accusations of scientific misconduct. The federal agency where he works told him he was on leave pending the results of an investigation into "integrity issues." A watchdog group believes it has to do with the 2006 journal article about the bear, but a source familiar with the investigation said late Thursday that placing Monnett on leave had nothing to with scientific integrity or the article. [...] In May 2008, the bear was classified as a threatened species, the first with its survival at risk due to global warming. According to a transcript, provided by Ruch's group, Ruch asked investigator Eric May, during questioning of Monnett in February, for specifics about the allegations. May replied: "well, scientific misconduct, basically, uh, wrong numbers, uh, miscalculations."

NYT: Report on Dead Polar Bears Gets a Biologist Suspended (07/28/11) - The federal government has suspended a wildlife biologist whose sightings of dead polar bears in Arctic waters became a rallying point for campaigners seeking to blunt the impact of global warming.  The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement notified the biologist, Charles Monnett, on July 18 that he had been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation into "integrity issues," according to a copy of a letter posted online by the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.  Documents posted by the group indicate that the inquiry centers on a 2006 report that Dr. Monnett co-wrote on deaths among polar bears swimming in the Beaufort Sea.  Dr. Monnett and a co-author, Jeffrey Gleason, prepared the seven-page observational report for the peer-reviewed journal Polar Biology after spotting four dead polar bears during an aerial survey of bowhead whales in the Beaufort Sea in 2004. As word of the sightings spread, images of drowned polar bears became a staple for activists who warned that global warming and the retreat of sea ice were threatening the bears' survival.  Dr. Monnett did not respond to a voicemail message left at his home near Anchorage. Efforts to reach Dr. Gleason were also unsuccessful.  Jeffrey Loman, the ocean energy bureau's deputy regional director for Alaska, who signed the July 18 letter informing Dr. Monnett that he was being placed on leave, declined to comment on Thursday on the reasons for the suspension. "It's an ongoing investigation, and we don't talk about these things, especially when it involves personnel matters," he said.

Alaska Dispatch: Why is a Scientist at an Offshore Oil Agency Under Investigation?  (07/28/11) - A respected government scientist was barred from his job and banned from talking to his his co-workers earlier this month and the question no one seems to be able -- or willing -- to answer is why. And perhaps more importantly: why now? Charles Monnett, an Alaskan who has been a key participant in many studies on Arctic wildlife and ecology for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement since 1999, returned from vacation on July 18 to find he had been suspended pending an investigation by the Interior Department's inspector general. He was banned from his Anchorage office, told he couldn't go in any Interior Department office and that he couldn't talk to his colleagues or any of myriad contractors who were working for him. Friends say he'd had no warning of the action although he'd been interviewed by inspector general investigators in February and questioned about an "observational note" that had been published in 2006 -- five years earlier.

Guardian UK: Arctic Scientist Who Exposed Climate Threat to Polar Bear is Suspended (07/28/11)  - Charles Monnett's co-paper on the risk of polar bears drowning due to melting Arctic sea ice galvanised campaigners concerned about climate change.  It was seen as one of the most distressing effects of climate change ever recorded: polar bears dying of exhaustion after being stranded between melting patches of Arctic sea ice. But now the government scientist who first warned of the threat to polar bears in a warming Arctic has been suspended and his work put under official investigation for possible scientific misconduct.  Charles Monnett, a wildlife biologist, oversaw much of the scientific work for the government agency that has been examining drilling in the Arctic. He managed about $50m (£30.5m) in research projects. [...] Two years later, Monnett and a colleague published an article in the science journal Polar Biology, writing: "Drowning-related deaths of polar bears may increase in the future if the observed trend of regression of pack ice and/or longer open water periods continues." The paper quickly heightened public concern for the polar bear. Al Gore, citing the paper, used polar bear footage in his film Inconvenient Truth. Campaigners focused on the bears to push George Bush to act on climate change, and in 2008, the government designated the animal a threatened species. It was the first animal to be classed as a victim of climate change. In 2010 the Obama administration began an investigation into his work. The scientist was suspended with pay on 18 July. He is said to be under a gagging order and forbidden from communicating with his colleagues. The employee group's complaint alleges that the investigation is a thinly veiled attempt to disrupt scientific work on the Arctic. Oil firms, which want to drill in the pristine environment of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, have been complaining of delays caused by environmental reviews. This month Obama issued an order to speed up Arctic drilling permits.

Telegraph UK: Polar Bear Climate scientist Investigated Over 'Misconduct' (07/29/11) - A biologist who claimed polar bears were drowning because of melting ice caps has been placed on administrative leave as officials investigate scientific misconduct allegations. Charles Monnett reported the first observations of polar bears having drowned while apparently swimming long distances in open water. Although it wasn't clear what the exact allegations were, a government watchdog group representing Anchorage-based scientist Charles Monnett said investigators have focused on his 2006 journal article about the bears that garnered worldwide attention.  The group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, filed a complaint on Mr Monnett's behalf with the agency, the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.  BOEMRE told Mr Monnett on July 18 that he was being put on leave, pending an investigation into "integrity issues."  The investigator has not yet told him of the specific charges or questions related to the scientific integrity of his work, said Jeff Ruch, the watchdog group's executive director.  A BOEMRE spokesman acknowledged there was an "ongoing internal investigation" but declined to get into specifics about it.  Whatever the outcome or the nature of the allegations, the investigation will likely fuel the ongoing fight between climate change activists and those who are sceptical of scientists' findings about global warming. The probe also focuses attention on an Obama administration policy intended to protect scientists from political interference.

The Daily Caller: Polar Bear Climate-Change Scientist Investigated For ‘Integrity Issues' (07/28/11) - The federal wildlife biologist whose research on drowning polar bears became a rallying cry for global warming advocates is under investigation for "integrity issues" relating to his scientific studies. Charles Monnett, a scientist with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) was placed on administrative leave by the agency on July 18, pending an investigation by the Department of the Interior's Inspector General office. In 2006, After observing a number of drowned polar bears while doing field work, Monnett and a colleague published a peer-reviewed article suggesting that "drowning-related deaths of polar bears may increase in the future if the observed trend of regression of pack ice and/or longer open water periods continues." The article never explicitly tied polar bear deaths to global warming, but it was nevertheless picked up by environmentalists - and even made its way into Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth." Although no details have been released regarding the investigation, Monnett was interviewed in February by agents from the office of the Inspector General regarding "potential scientific misconduct." The interview focused specifically on Monnett's 2004 work that led to the famous article.

Forbes: Patrick Michaels: Drowning Polar Bears And the Return Of Ursus Bogus (07/29/11) - Last year, the American Association for the Advancement of Science got into a bit of a pinch when its flagship magazine, Science, was caught in the photoshop with a faked image of a lone polar bear on a tiny ice floe.  Tim Blair, in the Australian Daily Telegraph coined it "Ursus bogus". Ursus bogus may be back, but with a very odd twist.  This time, the Obama administration appears to be after a prominent Interior Department scientist who moved the policy world with news of drowning polar bears. AP reports: A federal wildlife biologist whose observation in 2004 of presumably drowned polar bears in the Arctic helped to galvanize the global warming movement has been placed on administrative leave and is being investigated for scientific misconduct, possibly over the veracity of that article. The scientist in question is Charles Monnett, who works with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (think the nation could survive without this office?) in Anchorage. Somehow Al Gore is involved, as AP reports that his co-author Jeffrey Gleason was questioned by Interior Department investigators last January about Gore's mention of polar bears in the SciFi hit An Inconvenient Truth.[...] All of this is extremely curious.  Why is the Obama Administration investigating an iconic environmental scientist?  And why is that scientist seeking protection from being prosecuted for political activity? And were the drowned bears Ursus bogus?

Investor's Business Daily: Junk Science Unravels (07/28/11)  - Climate Change: The scientist who claimed that global warming threatens polar bears is under investigation. There's a hole in Earth's greenhouse. A cooler era lies ahead. That hiss is the hot air coming out of alarmists' balloon. The global warming fraud is coming apart faster than the alarmists can repackage and rebrand their fairy tale. Their elaborately constructed yarn can't hold together much longer. There are just too many loose ends: Charles Monnett, the scientist who predicted that polar bears would drown from a lack of sea ice, "is being investigated for scientific misconduct, possibly over the veracity" of the article in which he makes that claim, the Associated Press reported Thursday. Monnett, a federal wildlife biologist with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, has been placed on leave pending the probe's outcome. After Monnett claimed that the deaths of four drowned polar bears foretold of an increase in deaths "in the future if the observed trend of regression of pack ice and/or longer open water periods continues," polar bears became an environmentalist icon. Al Gore, for instance, resorted to emotion-evoking polar bear images in his climate change movie "An Inconvenient Truth." The New York Times Dot Earth blogger called it "a wrenching scene.

WSJ Editorial: A Tale of Two Shale States

WSJ Editorial

A Tale of Two Shale States

Pennsylvania's gain vs. New York's missed opportunity

JULY 26, 2011.

Link to Editorial

Politicians wringing their hands over how to create more jobs might study the shale boom along the New York and Pennsylvania border. It's a case study in one state embracing economic opportunity, while the other has let environmental politics trump development.

The Marcellus shale formation-65 million acres running through Ohio, West Virginia, western Pennsylvania and southern New York-offers one of the biggest natural gas opportunities. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, a Democrat, recognized that potential and set up a regulatory framework to encourage and monitor natural gas drilling, a strategy continued by Republican Tom Corbett.

More than 2,000 wells have been drilled in the Keystone State since 2008, and gas production surged to 81 billion cubic feet in 2009 from five billion in 2007. A new Manhattan Institute report by University of Wyoming professor Timothy Considine estimates that a typical Marcellus well generates some $2.8 million in direct economic benefits from natural gas company purchases; $1.2 million in indirect benefits from companies engaged along the supply chain; another $1.5 million from workers spending their wages, or landowners spending their royalty payments; plus $2 million in federal, state and local taxes. Oh, and 62 jobs.

Statistics from Pennsylvania bear this out. The state Department of Labor and Industry reports that Marcellus drilling has created 72,000 jobs between the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2011. The average wage for jobs in core Marcellus shale industries is about $73,000, or some $27,000 more than the average for all industries.

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue says drillers have paid more than $1 billion in state taxes since 2006-and the numbers are swelling. In 2011's first quarter, 857 oil and gas companies and affiliates paid $238 million in capital stock and foreign franchise taxes, corporate income taxes, sales taxes and employer withholding. This exceeds by some $20 million the total payments in 2010.

The revenue department also identified some $214 million in personal income taxes paid since 2006 that can be attributed to Marcellus shale lease payments to individuals, royalty income and asset sales. And all of this with no evidence of significant environmental harm.


Then there's New York. The state holds as much as 20% of the estimated Marcellus shale reserves, but green activists have raised fears about the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing and convinced politicians to enact what is effectively a moratorium.

A Minard Run Oil Company drilling team lowers steel pipe sections into a recently drilled 2100 foot gas well to "notch" the side walls before a high pressure fracturing takes place in Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania in 2008.

The Manhattan Institute study shows that a quick end to the moratorium would generate more than $11.4 billion in economic output from 2011 to 2020, 15,000 to 18,000 new jobs, and $1.4 billion in new state and local tax revenue. These are conservative estimates based on a limited area of drilling. If drilling were allowed in the New York City watershed-which Governor Andrew Cuomo is so far rejecting-as well as in the state's Utica shale formation, the economic gains would be five times larger.

Consider New York's Broome County, which borders Pennsylvania and from which you can spot nearby rigs. The county seat of Binghamton ought to be a hub for shale commerce, but instead its population is falling as its young people leave for jobs elsewhere.

A study commissioned by the county in 2009 found that Broome could support up to 4,000 wells, but drilling even half that number would create some $400 million in wages, salaries and benefits; $605 million in property income from rents, royalties and dividends, and some $43 million in state and local tax revenue.

The Broome analysis pointed to Texas, where Chesapeake Energy paid Dallas Fort Worth International Airport $180 million for drilling rights on 18,000 acres of airport property-$10,000 per acre. The airport receives a 25% royalty on the natural gas produced by airport wells-more than $28 million in fiscal 2008. The study also noted the boon that rising oil and gas property values have been to Texas landowners, tax authorities and school districts.


Governor Cuomo has said he wants to lift New York's moratorium, and the state's recently released draft rules are a step forward. But they must still undergo legal review and a public comment period that could bar New York drilling for the rest of this year, if not longer. New York will also still ban drilling in about 15% of the state's portion of the Marcellus and impose more onerous rules than other states on private property drilling. Such bows toward the obsessions of rich, big-city greens explain why parts of upstate New York are the new Appalachia.

As they look across their northern border, Pennsylvanians can be forgiven for thinking of New Yorkers the way Abba Eban once described the Palestinians: They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.