Rick Piltz

Frederick Steven “Rick” Piltz (1943-2014) is best known for blowing the whistle on the George W. Bush White House over political interference in federal climate change science programs. As a senior associate in the coordination office for the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) for nearly a decade, he sought legal whistleblower protection representation from Government Accountability Project and provided hard evidence to the New York Times of improper, hand-written editing of completed federal climate science reports by a high-ranking official in the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Philip Cooney. Under direction from President Bush and Vice President Cheney, Cooney repeatedly took actions to downplay the seriousness of human-caused global warming and a host of harmful climate change impacts. Upon this riveting disclosure Piltz quit his federal position in protest and wrote in his resignation letter: “I believe the overarching problem is that the [Bush] Administration…does not want and has acted to impede forthright communication of the state of climate science and its implication for society.” Cooney, a former lobbyist and attorney with the American Petroleum Institute, quietly accepted a position with the Exxon Mobil Corporation just days after leaving his government job. Piltz leveraged his new notoriety by founding Climate Science Watch, a watchdog program of Government Accountability Project with the mission of holding public officials accountable for using climate science with integrity in policy making. From 2005 to 2014 CSW worked to educate, inform, and inspire the public to action regarding the climate change threat and to fight back against climate science denial. Piltz testified several times before Congress, and appeared frequently in the media including on 60 Minutes, PBS, and in The Guardian. Piltz won the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling in 2006, and is a central figure in the award winning documentary Everything’s Cool. In 2015, with Rick’s blessing before he passed, Government Accountability Project Chief of Staff Michael Termini relaunched Climate Science Watch as Climate Science & Policy Watch (CSPW). Today, CSPW remains at the forefront of advocacy for scientific integrity in climate science research and the responsible use of climate science in public policymaking.