The House Science Investigations & Oversight Subcommittee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, March 28, on “Shaping the Message, Distorting the Science: Media Strategies to Influence Public Policy.”  Witnesses testifying at the hearing will include Tarek Maassarani, attorney with the Government Accountability Project (our parent organization). GAP is releasing a new, in-depth investigative report documenting in detail how policies and practices at federal research agencies have restricted the flow of scientific information getting to the public.

Stay tuned for more on this hearing and the GAP investigative report.

Hearing info:

House Committee on Science and Technology
Investigations & Oversight Subcommittee
Hearing March 28, 2007
2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
2318 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC

Shaping the Message, Distorting the Science: Media Strategies to Influence
Public Policy

The hearing will be webcast on the committee’s website.

Witness list (from the committee’s website:

Dr. James J. McCarthy
Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography
Harvard University
Board Member
Union of Concerned Scientists

Sheldon Rampton
Co-Author of “Trust Us, We’re Experts!”

Tarek Maassarani
Government Accountability Project
Author, “Redacting the Science of Climate Change”

Jeff Kueter
George C. Marshall Institute

Environment & Energy Daily reported (by subscription):

Monday, March 26, 2007

SCIENCE: Censorship issue finds new venue this week in science panel

Lauren Morello, E&E Daily reporter

Congressional attention to allegations of scientific censorship continues this week with a House Science and Technology Committee hearing on whether the Bush administration has altered or suppressed the work of federal scientists….

The hearing comes weeks after the subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.), and Science Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) sent letters to 11 federal agencies and departments for more information on the policies that govern interaction between their scientists and the media. Recent media reports that Fish and Wildlife Service biologists and other employees may not discuss climate change, sea ice or polar bears unless designated to do so by the agency spurred the lawmakers’ request, they said in the letters. [also see here]

While the FWS reports are likely to surface at Wednesday’s hearing, also guiding the discussion will be a new report from the Government Accountability Project that details incidents of scientific suppression across several federal agencies. The document, to be released at the hearing Thursday, is a follow-up to a report [2.44 MB] GAP released last month with the Union of Concerned Scientists that examined reported Bush administration interference in climate science and included a survey of government climatologists….

Also testifying will be Harvard professor James McCarthy, a board member of the Union of Concerned Scientists. In addition to its report with GAP last month on alleged suppression of federal climate science, UCS released a separate report in January that it says details disinformation tactics and media strategy used by Exxon Mobil Corp. “to cloud the scientific understanding of climate change and delay action on the issue.”

The third witness, Sheldon Rampton, represents the group SourceWatch. A project of the Center for Media and Democracy, SourceWatch attempts to track ties between scientific experts, public relations firms and industry.

copyright E&E Publishing, LLC

We note that, subsequent to the article in E&E Daily, the Republicans appear to have invited a fourth witness, Jeff Kueter, from the Marshall Institute, a leading ExxonMobil-funded policy group [see fact sheet] associated with one-sidedly promoting outside-the-mainstream “skeptic” scientists.  Marshall CEO William O’Keefe was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the American Petroleum Institute and was a paid lobbyist for ExxonMobil, 2001-2005, on the issues of environment and climate change. [see background]

We also note that there is an eminent scientist on the panel—Dr. McCarthy served as co-chair of the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group II Third Assessment Report, Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. We trust he will be able to counter Mr. Kueter’s tendency to play down and divert attention from the conclusions of IPCC scientific assessments.