|The prime players in the brouhaha over allegations that the Bush administration downplayed or deleted evidence of global warming in government research squared off in a House Oversight Committee hearing yesterday. It was the first time that Philip Cooney, the former chief of staff at the White House's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), appeared before Congress to answer charges that he manipulated government research.
Cooney, a former lobbyist for the oil and gas industry and current Exxon Mobil employee, claimed that the hundreds of changes he made to government documents were necessary to bring the research in line with conclusions from a 2001 National Academy of Sciences report. But Cooney's edits downplayed the impact of human activity on global warming and created uncertainty over global warming in general. Details on the specific edits Cooney made are here (.pdf).
"Mr. Cooney and his staff made hundreds of separate edits to the government's 'strategic plan' for climate change research," said committee chairman Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California). "These changes injected doubt in place of certainty, minimized the dangers of climate change, and diminished the human role in causing the planet to warm. Other key government reports - including an EPA report on the environment and an annual report to Congress on the changing planet - were subject to similar edits and distortions."
Waxman said the committee has received several boxes of documents from the CEQ and a preliminary analysis of their contents is "disturbing."
"It suggests there may have been a concerted effort directed by the White House to mislead the public about the dangers of global climate change," he said.
NASA scientist James Hansen, a climate expert and one of the first people to speak out against the White House's scientific meddling, also testified. Hansen described a growing politicization of scientific research over his career, with the worst interference coming the recent years during the Bush administration. Hansen said the White House controlled and edited congressional testimony and interfered with NASA press releases, web site posts and scientists' ability to talk to the media.
"These orders were delivered orally, as usual, as was a threat of 'dire consequences' if I did not comply," Hansen said.
Hansen withstood accusations from some Republican members on the committee that he was playing politics and advocating for limiting the debate over climate change. Hansen responded that he was advocating for the scientific method. But NASA's top climate scientist saved his most pointed comments for another witness at the hearing -- George Deutsch III, a young Bush appointee who tried to muzzle Hansen on numerous occasions and prevented him from speaking to NPR.
"A new young political appointee at Public Affairs, apparently was not well-schooled in the rules and left a paper trail," Hansen said, referring to the then 23-year-old Deutsch III, who lost his job after it was revealed that he had lied on his resume about graduating from Texas A&M University. "[Deutsch III] was not acting on his own or affecting communication with the public in a way contrary to the wishes of his bosses," Hansen said. "The paper trail that he left showed that the problem starts at the top."
Deutsch III blamed his indiscretions on youth and inexperience. You can read his cloying apologia and account of how the Bush administration hand picked him for campaign work here (.pdf). Have a bag for vomitus handy.
this article goes hand in hand with my previous post about Paul Wolfowitz: http://www.frihost.com/forums/vt-79040.html
the main focus of this congress investigation is the former chief of staff at the White House's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Philip Cooney, who also happens to be a former lobbyist for the oil and gas industry and is currently a Exxon Mobil employee! what a surprise, you know i wish this bush administration would spend as much time and effort fighting terrorist as they did fighting facts...