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Trump Administration May “Re-Examine” Climate Modeling

Scientific American

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler used an overseas gathering of environment ministers last week to hint that the United States might overhaul the way it uses climate data and modeling.

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Andrew Wheeler delivers a speech at the G7 Environment Meeting in Metz, France, on May 6, 2019. Credit: Jean-Christophe Verhaegen Getty Images

Five days after his assertion was included in an official document from the Group of Seven meeting in Metz, France, it remains unclear if Wheeler revealed a potential policy to reexamine climate modeling.

It’s become common for the United States to have its own climate and energy paragraph in multilateral statements, and on Monday, Wheeler broke away from the six other nations on issues like the Paris Agreement, providing support for poor and climate-affected countries, and overseas investments in fossil fuels.

That much was normal. It’s happened ever since President Trump took office in January 2017.

But Wheeler added something new that’s raising concern among some environmentalists that the United States might be formally questioning climate science inside federal agencies.

“The United States reaffirms its commitment to re-examine comprehensive modeling that best reflects the actual state of climate science in order to inform its policy-making decisions, including comparing actual monitored climate data against the modeled climate trajectories on an on-going basis,” says the U.S. portion of the communiqué.

Greens who follow the G-7 process were dismayed. […]

Meyer and others suggested that Wheeler might be referring to plans within the White House to convene a task force within the National Security Council to undermine the scientific underpinnings of the National Climate Assessment. But that proposal—to be spearheaded by William Happer, a senior director on the National Security Council—has yet to be accepted by Trump. NSC didn’t respond to inquiries (Climatewire, Feb. 21).

Myron Ebell, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said a White House meeting last week to brief the president on the Happer proposal “went well.” But he said the concept remains controversial among some senior officials.

“The president is enthusiastic about setting up the Happer commission,” said Ebell, who oversaw the EPA transition team before Trump’s inauguration. But he noted that Wheeler would have been unlikely to reference a program that Trump has yet to bless at an international forum.

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