Cooch "Barking at the Moon" on Global Warming

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thanks to Rob Smith of Go Green, Virginia for the detailed notes which I've edited, with his permission, to prepare the following diary. And yes, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli really is a complete and utter lunatic.

Earlier today, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli held a press conference in Richmond, at which he discussed his petition against the Environmental Protection Agency over its ruling that global warming poses a threat to humankind. Attendees consisted mostly of the press and a few familiar faces from the halls of the General Assembly. On our side were Glen Besa of the Sierra Club, J.R. Tolbert from Environment Virginia, and Lauren Glickman from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. The following are some notes from the press conference.

Cuccinelli limped into the press conference with a cast on his right foot, but nonetheless jumped right into business by addressing the premises of his petition. According to Cuccinelli, two steps were taken by the Commonwealth of Virginia yesterday with respect to the issue: 1) a filed pleading with the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. requesting judicial review (and, ultimately, injunctive relief); and 2) a petition for reconsideration. Cuccinelli explained Virginia’s standing to file suit, and aside from the utterly frivolous nature of the substance of his claim, it sounded like he had done his legal homework. In short, according to Cuccinelli, Virginia meets the requirements to petition for rehearing.

The core of Virginia's argument, it appears, is that this is a "sovereignty issue" and that the EPA should not be relying on non-American data. Specifically, Cuccinelli charged that data collected through the Climatic Research Unit and the IPCC were part of the same batch of "botched," "false," "doctored," "unreliable" data, measurements and evidence. Throughout his press conference, Cuccinelli revisited these assertions, but without presenting any specific evidence to support his allegations. In addition, Cuccinelli insisted - again, without any evidence to back it up - that the EPA's decision would adversely impact the standard of living for Virginia’s citizens, jobs, and the well-being of its corporations and industry.

Another Cuccinelli claim without any evidence backing it up was that global warming data had been "doctored" over several years and that the scientific method and full disclosure had not been followed. Cuccinelli further claimed that it was impossible to tell what was happening with any level of certainty due to the "political science" being employed with the data. Cuccinelli speculated that likely reasons for this supposed "malfeasance" in data collection were a money grab for grant funding, combined with employment opportunities for scientists.

Delving deeper into the world of conspiracy theories, Cuccinelli claimed that the finding of global warming was all preconceived, that no raw data was received by the IPCC or other bodies, and that data was doctored through a special type of math full of variables and quantifiers. Cuccinelli further asserted that scientists delivered "doctored" data based on politicized demands. He even claimed that podiatrists were collecting data alongside climatologists. Cuccinelli did not, of course, back up any of these outlandish claims with any evidence, other than the vague mention of emails. Whether or not Cuccinelli has possession of these supposed emails, or any other evidence, remains to be seen. We may be waiting a long time.

Asked if we should err on the side of caution when it comes to global warming science, Cuccinelli's response was that we will not know if the climate data is flawed until we restart the data gathering process from the beginning. According to Cuccinelli, while we're waiting for this "conclusive evidence," the economic consequences of taking action on global warming outweigh the potential risks of doing nothing. Cuccinelli was asked what he meant by doctored data. His response - again, unsubstantiated - was that scores of "weather centers" had been employing "fudge factors" instead of raw, empirical data.

In the end, what Attorney General Cuccinelli is doing here is simple: stall or kill implementation of EPA regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately, Cuccinelli's efforts are unlikely to succeed, as he will need to satisfy a heavy burden of proof if he is to prevail in any court proceeding. Essentially, then, all that Cuccinelli is doing here is barking at the moon. What's sad is that, in pursuing his strange and misguided beliefs, Cuccinelli is using up Virginia's limited legal resources at a time of budgetary and economic crisis. Also sad is that the Attorney General does not care about the health of his constituents of the environment. Instead, Cuccinelli seems to believe that harming the Earth is a good thing based on economic principles of the free market, and also that the market does not need to adhere to responsible and moral principles. In general, Cuccinelli appears to view his role as Attorney General as helping polluting industries stave off regulations, while they rake in huge profits and harm the people and environment of Virginia.

UPDATE: On this same subject, please see kindler's excellent diary.