Speaking about Bush crony-corruption (aren’t we always?), climate change science also was a target of the heavy hand of the Assministration. Following the Bush playbook, oil industry hacks were placed in positions of authority, and manipulated every bit of data they could to obfuscate global warming reports.
Government scientists, armed with copies of heavily edited reports, charged Monday that the Bush administration and its political appointees had soft-pedaled their findings on climate change.The accusations led Democrats and Republicans at the congressional hearing to accuse each other of censorship, smear tactics and McCarthyism.
To underscore their charges of the administration’s oil-friendly stance, Democrats grilled an oil lobbyist who was hired by the White House to review government climate change documents and who made hundreds of edits that the lawmakers said minimized the impact of global warming.“You were a spin doctor,” Rep. John A. Yarmuth (D-Ky) told the lobbyist.
Henry Waxman is doing his job well:
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing was marked by an open confrontation between Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) and the ranking Republican, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) — a rare display of direct debate in otherwise carefully choreographed hearings.
The hearing was the latest effort to challenge what the Democratic congressional majority sees as the Bush administration’s unchecked use of power. In the past few weeks, Democrats have held inquiries or announced plans to examine the unmonitored use of national security letters that allow the government to spy on Americans, the dismissal of U.S. attorneys and the identifying of former covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, among other issues.
Waxman has been particularly aggressive, pursuing inquiries about intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq war and the politics of global warming.
To support their charges Monday, the Democrats produced hundreds of pages of legal depositions, exhibits and e-mail exchanges between administration officials. The paper trail illustrated how officials with no scientific training shaped the administration’s climate change message and edited global warming reports, inserting doubt in the place of definitive statements and diminishing the role people play in the planet’s rising temperatures.
Waxman’s committee received more than eight boxes of papers from the White House Council on Environmental Quality that he said provided disturbing indications of political interference.
“There may have been a concerted effort directed by the White House to mislead the public about the dangers of global climate change,” said Waxman, who also cited the administration practice of “controlling what federal scientists could say to the public and the media about their work.”
“It would be a serious abuse if senior White House officials deliberately tried to defuse calls for action by ensuring that the public heard a distorted message about the risks of climate change,” Waxman said.
One example showed how a report originally said the U.S. National Research Council had concluded that “greenhouse gases are accumulating in the atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures to rise and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise.”
Philip Cooney, the oil lobbyist who became chief of staff at the Council on Environmental Quality, changed that to read: “Some activities emit greenhouse gases that directly or indirectly may affect the balance of incoming and outgoing radiation, thereby potentially affecting climate on regional and global scales.”
James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said the edits confused public understanding of the issue. “If we push our climate system hard enough, it can pass tipping points,” he said. “That is not a situation we want to leave for our children.”
Hansen decried political interference in climate change science. “Scientists shouldn’t be hired to parrot some line.”
Cooney, now with Exxon Mobil Corp., came to the White House in 2001 after more than 15 years with the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry lobby group. His last post there was leader of the climate team.
Waxman quoted an internal API document that identified climate change as the group’s highest priority. He said a key API tactic was to spread doubt about climate change science, exaggerating scientific uncertainty and downplaying the role of humans in climate change.
“What bothers me is that you seem to take the exact same approach in the White House,” Waxman told Cooney