Sen. Inhofe: 30 Years As An Economist = Climate Science Expertise

July 07, 2009 11:42 am ET — Matt Finkelstein

As usual, Sen. James Inhofe won't let the facts get in the way of his anti-science crusade.

Appearing on Fox News this morning, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) continued pushing the line that the EPA "tried to suppress" a study that was skeptical of global warming.  The truth, of course, is that the EPA considered and rejected a report that it never asked for by a staff economist with no expertise in climate science.  Fox News' Bill Hemmer even admitted as much (albeit passively).  But when presented with the facts, Inhofe argued that the report is credible because its author has been at the EPA for 30 years, his unrelated job function notwithstanding:

Inhofe: Alan Carlin is a longtime 30-year employee, and he had access to the new science, which is really reversing a lot of the things that the scientific community thought were true ten years ago.  They tried to suppress that.  I'm going to get a commitment from [EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson] today at the hearing that takes place just about 30 minutes from now that we're going to have to get an investigation to find out why they suppressed it, how they did it, and make sure it doesn't happen again.  [...]

Hemmer: Here's what the EPA says, Senator.  They say Carlin's not a scientist, he included no original research in his report, and none of it was solicited by the EPA.  It sounded like it was a side-job on the side ... Do you see it that way?

Inhofe:  No, I don't see it that way at all.  This guy's been there for 30 years, Bill.  I mean, you know, he's not some new guy that was there.  That's his job.  They've been taking his information, using his information for 30 years.  Then, all of a sudden now, they decide that his information is not consistent with the administration. 

As Grist magazine's Jonathan Hiskes noted, Carlin's job is crunching numbers, not commenting on global warming.  Carlin works at "the EPA's National Center for Environmental Economics (NCEE), which conducts a variety of economic analysis, including cost-benefit studies, risk assessment, and economic impact modeling," Hiskes wrote.  "In short, it does number crunching, not scientific research." So while the EPA has been "using his information" for thirty years, Carlin is far from qualified to single-handedly reverse the agency's position on climate change.  

I wonder if Inhofe thinks, say, the Senate Parliamentarian should be writing important legislation instead of him.  Maybe we'd be better off.