Second Part of Climate Science-Political Inference Hearing in January

(Washington, D.C.) – The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has scheduled a hearing for this coming Monday, March 19, for the second part of its hearing Allegations of Political Interference with the Work of Government Climate Change Scientists. The first part of this hearing was held on January 30, 2007, at which Rick Piltz, Director of Climate Science Watch (a GAP Program) testified. At the same time, GAP and the Union of Concerned Scientists released an investigative report uncovering evidence of widespread political interference in federal climate science.

In June 2005 news reports, documents that Piltz obtained showed that a White House official with no scientific training, Philip Cooney, a former oil industry lobbyist, was editing climate change science program reports in an attempt to confuse and obscure the reality of human-caused global warming and the likely harmful consequences for society and the environment. Two days after the reports first broke, Cooney left his position, only to be hired by ExxonMobil three days later. Cooney, who has never commented publicly about the matter, is slated to testify before the committee on Monday. Other expected testimony at the hearing will come from James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Cooney’s former boss.

“Acting on behalf of the President, the White House Council on Environmental Quality has been instrumental in undermining the integrity of federal climate change communications and the credibility of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program,” Piltz said. “The American public needs to know the full role the Bush administration has played in politicizing climate change science communication. Questioning Philip Cooney and James Connaughton under oath is an essential step in understanding this. Important pieces of the puzzle need to be put together.”

Added Piltz, “This hearing is the first opportunity for Congress to document and investigate the total breadth of this operation, one where the mission was to create an exaggerated sense of scientific uncertainty regarding climate change.”

Also testifying will be James Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA, who was warned by NASA officials to stop speaking out about the possible dangers of global warming. George Deutsch, the former public affairs officer for NASA who, according to news reports, instructed other NASA personnel to limit Hansen’s contact with reporters, will testify as well. Deutsch, a 2004 Bush re-election campaign worker before joining NASA, resigned shortly after Hansen’s censorship concerns received media attention, amidst news reports that he did not graduate from college as his resume on file at NASA had indicated.

Other testimony is expected from Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

The hearing is set to begin at 10:00 a.m., in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building. GAP’s January report, Atmosphere of Pressure, can be found here.