From the Wonk Room.
The first satellite designed exclusively to measure atmospheric carbon dioxide from space failed to reach orbit during this morning’s launch, NASA reported. The Orbital Carbon Observatory (O-C-O, an acronym that matches the chemical diagram for carbon dioxide) “did not achieve orbit successfully in a way that we could have a mission,” Nasa launch commentator George Diller announced following the early-morning liftoff. “I am bitterly disappointed about the loss of OCO,” Dr. Paul Palmer, a scientist collaborating on the mission, told BBC News. “My thoughts go out to the science team that have dedicated the past seven years to building and testing the instrument.” NASA’s announcement explains the loss in dry terms:
When OCO launched Feb. 24, the payload fairing did not separate as it was supposed to and the mission ended.
The OCO would have complemented the Japanese satellite Gosat, designed to measure carbon dioxide and methane emissions with an infrared spectrometer and a cloud and aerosol imager. Gosat successfully launched on Friday. The two satellites were designed to work together and cross-check each other’s measurements, with “a common ground validation network to help combine data from the missions.”Satellite measurement of CO2 emissions is needed to complete scientists’ understanding of the carbon cycle. Scientific American’s David Biello explained the mystery of the missing carbon before OCO’s launch:
Human activity—from coal-fired power plants to car tailpipes—is responsible for nearly 30 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide wafting into the atmosphere yearly. We know that roughly 15 billion metric tons remains in the atmosphere for a century or more. A portion of the rest ends up in the ocean—acidifying saltwater and making life tough for corals—and another chunk appears to be helping tropical trees grow thicker. We don’t know, however, where the rest of humanity’s CO2 is disappearing to.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008 H.R. 6063.
Bill Summary and Status
Reported by the Space & Aeronautics Subcommittee May 20, 2008
Introduced in the House May 15, 2008 Section-by-Section
Sec. 1. Short Title.
The “National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008”.
Sec. 2. Findings.
Congress finds, on this the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of NASA, that the agency is and should remain a balanced, multimission agency, and 12 other findings.
Sec. 3. Definitions.
(1) Administrator-The term “Administrator” means the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
(2) NASA-The term “NASA” means the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
(3) OSTP- The term “OSTP” means the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
TITLE I. – AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS FOR FISCAL YEAR 2009
Sec. 101. Fiscal Year 2009
Authorizes NASA at $20,210,000,000 for FY 09. This amount is approximately $2.59 billion above the President’s FY 2009 request.
The baseline Authorization of $19.21 billion, includes the following breakdown:
Science: $4,932,200,000 of which
$1,518,000,000 is for Earth Science
$1,483,000,000 is for Planetary Science
$1,290,400,000 is for Astrophysics
$640,800,000 is for Heliophysics
Space Operations: $6,074,400,000
Cross-Agency Support Programs: $3,299,900,000
Inspector General: $35,500,000
In addition to the above amounts, the bill authorizes $1,000,000,000 to accelerate the initial operational capability of the Crew Exploration Vehicle and the Crew Launch Vehicle.
TITLE II. – EARTH SCIENCE
Sec. 201. Goal
Expresses the sense of the Congress that the goal of NASA’s Earth Science program shall be to pursue a leadership role in providing Earth observations, research, and applications activities to better understand the Earth system
Sec. 202. Governance of U.S. Earth Observations Activities
Requires the Director of the OSTP to task the National Academies with conducting a study to determine the most appropriate governance structure for U.S. Earth Observation programs. Directs the study to be delivered to Congress within 18 months after the enactment of the Act, and for the OSTP to provide an implementation plan of the study’s recommendations within 24 months of the enactment of the Act.
Sec. 203. Decadal Survey Missions.
Requires the Administrator to submit a plan describing how NASA intends to implement the recommended missions in the National Academies decadal survey “Earth Sciences and Applications from Space,” within 270 days of the enactment of the Act.
Sec. 204. Transitioning Experimental Research Into Operational Services.
Encourages NASA to transition experimental sensors and missions that have the potential to benefit society into operational status whenever possible.
Directs the Director of the OSTP, in consultation with the Administrator of NASA and the Administrator of NOAA, to develop a process for federal agencies to transition NASA Earth science and space weather missions or sensors into operational status. Requires NASA and NOAA to submit a joint plan for each mission or sensor that is determined to be appropriate for transition to Congress within 60 days of the successful completion of the mission or sensor critical design review.
Sec. 205. Landsat Thermal Infrared Data Continuity
Requires the Administrator to prepare a plan for ensuring the continuity of Landsat thermal infrared data or its equivalent within 60 days of the enactment of the Act.
Sec. 206. Reauthorization of Glory Mission
Reauthorizes NASA to continue with development of the Glory mission and requires the Administrator to submit a report to Congress a new Baseline Report within 90 days of the enactment of the Act.
Sec. 207. Plan for Disposition of Deep Space Climate Observatory.
Requires NASA to develop a plan for the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), which shall examine options for the future disposition of the spacecraft and its instruments, and to submit this plan no later than 180 days after the enactment of the Act.
TITLE III. AERONAUTICS
Sec. 301. Environmentally Friendly Aircraft Research and Development Initiative.
Directs the Administrator to establish an initiative with the objective of enabling commercial aircraft performance characteristics such as significant noise reduction near airports and significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Sec. 302. Research Alignment.
Requires the Administrator, to the maximum extent possible, to align the fundamental aeronautics research program to address high priority technology challenges of the National Academies “Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics.”
Sec. 303. Research Program to Determine Perceived Impact of Sonic Booms.
Requires the Administrator to establish a cooperative research program with industry to collect data on the impact of sonic booms that can be used to develop standards for overland commercial supersonic flight operations.
Sec. 304. External Review of NASA’s Aviation Safety-Related Research Programs.
Requires the Administrator to arrange for the National Research Council to conduct an independent review of NASA’s aviation safety-related research programs, and to submit to Congress a report on the results on this review within 14 months of the enactment of the Act.
Sec. 305. Interagency Research Initiative on the Impact of Aviation on the Climate.
Requires the Administrator, in coordination with the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and other appropriate agencies, to establish a research initiative to assess the impact of aviation on the climate, and if warranted, to evaluate approaches to mitigate that impact. Requires the participating entities to jointly develop a plan for the research program no later than 1 year after the enactment of the Act. Requires the Administrator to arrange for the National Research Council to conduct an independent review of the plan and to provide the results of this review no later than 2 years after the enactment of the Act.
Sec. 306. Research Program on Design for Certification.
Requires NASA, in consultation with other appropriate agencies, to establish a research program on methods to improve both the confidence in and the timeliness of certification of new technologies for their introduction into the national airspace system, and to provide a plan for this program no later than 1 year after the enactment of the Act. Requires the Administrator to arrange for the National Research Council to conduct an independent review of the plan and to provide the results of this review no later than 2 years after the enactment of the Act.
Sec. 307. Aviation Weather Research.
Requires the Administrator to establish a research program with NOAA on improving the reliability of 2-hour to 6-hour aviation weather forecasts.
Sec. 308. Joint Aeronautics Research and Development Advisory Committee.
Establishes and provides the guidelines for a joint Aeronautics Research and Development Advisory Committee which shall assess and make recommendations regarding the coordination of research and development activities of NASA and the FAA.
Sec. 309. Funding for R&D Activities in Support of other Mission Directorates.
Establishes that funding for research and development activities performed by the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate for the flight projects of other Mission Directorates be funded by the Mission Directorate seeking assistance.
Sec. 310. University-Based Centers for Research on Aviation Training.
Changes “may” to “shall” in Section 427 (a) of P.L. 109-155.
TITLE IV. INTERNATIONAL EXPLORATION INITIATIVE
Sec. 401. Sense of Congress.
Expresses the sense of Congress that the President should invite America’s friends and allies to participate in a long term exploration initiative under the leadership of the U.S.
Sec. 402. Stepping Stone Approach to Exploration.
Requires the Administrator to take all necessary steps to ensure that the lunar exploration program be designed and implemented in a manner that gives strong consideration to meeting requirements of future exploration and utilization activities beyond the Moon.
Sec. 403. Lunar Outpost.
Requires that NASA make no plans that would require a lunar outpost to be occupied to maintain its viability. Establishes that the U.S. portion of the first human-tended outpost on the Moon shall be designated the “Neil A. Armstrong Lunar Outpost.” Expresses the intent of Congress that NASA shall make use of commercial services to the maximum extent practicable in support of its lunar outpost activities.
Sec. 404. Exploration Technology Development
Requires the Administrator to establish a program of long-term exploration-related technology research and development that is not tied to specific flight projects with a funding goal of at least ten percent of the budget of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, and of having at least fifty percent of the funding allocated to external research institutions.
Sec. 405. Exploration Risk Mitigation Plan
Requires the Administrator to provide a plan identifying the scientific and technical risks that need to be addressed in carrying out human exploration beyond low Earth orbit and the research and development activities required to address those risks, and to provide the plan no later than 1 year following the enactment of the Act.
Sec. 406. Exploration Crew Rescue.
Directs the Administrator to enter into discussions for the purpose of agreeing to a common docking system standard with other spacefaring nations who have or plan to have crew transportation systems.
Sec. 407. Participatory Exploration.
Requires the Administrator to develop a technology plan to enable dissemination of information to the public for the purpose of fully experiencing NASA’s missions to the Moon, Mars and other bodies of our solar system, and to provide Congress with the plan no later than 270 days of the enactment of the Act.
Sec. 408. Science and Exploration
Expresses the sense of Congress that NASA’s scientific and human exploration activities are synergistic, and encourages the Administrator to coordinate NASA’s science and exploration activities to maximize the success of the human exploration initiatives and to further our understanding of the universe.
TITLE V – SPACE SCIENCE
Sec. 501. Technology Development.
Directs the Administrator to establish a cross-Directorate long-term technology development program for space and Earth science within the Science Mission Directorate and sets a funding goal for the program of five percent of the total Science Mission Directorate annual budget, and directs that it be structured to include competitively awarded grants and contracts in the program.
Sec. 502. Provision for Future Servicing of Observatory-Class Scientific Spacecraft.
Directs the Administrator to ensure that provision is made for all future observatory-class scientific spacecraft intended to be deployed in Earth orbit or at Lagrangian points in space for robotic or human servicing and repair.
Sec. 503. Mars Exploration.
Reaffirms the Congress’ support for a systematic and integrated program of robotic exploration of the Martian surface.
Sec. 504. Importance of a Balanced Science Programs.
Expresses the sense of Congress that a balanced and adequately funded set of activities all contribute to a robust and productive science program and are catalysts for innovation. Expresses the further sense of Congress that suborbital flight activities provide valuable training opportunities and that it is in the national interest to expand the size of NASA’s suborbital research program.
Sec. 505. Restoration of RTG Material Production.
Requires the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a plan for restarting and sustaining the domestic production of Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) material for deep space and other space science missions and to deliver the plan to Congress within 270 days of the enactment of the Act. $5,000,000 is authorized for radioisotope material production.
Sec. 506. Assessment of Impediments to Interagency Cooperation on Space and Earth Science Missions.
Requires the Administrator to arrange for the National Research Council to assess impediments to interagency cooperation on space and Earth science missions and to provide the report to Congress within 15 months of the enactment of the Act.
Sec. 507. Assessment of Cost Growth.
Requires the Administrator to arrange for an independent external assessment to identify the primary causes of cost growth in large, medium, and small space and Earth science spacecraft mission classes and to identify recommendations and to provide the report within 15 months of the enactment of the Act.
TITLE VI – SPACE OPERATIONS
SUBTITLE A – International Space Station.
Sec. 601. Utilization.
Directs the Administrator to take all necessary steps to ensure that the International Space Station (ISS) remains a viable and productive facility of potential U.S. utilization through at least 2020 and to take no steps that would preclude its continued operation and utilization by the U.S. after 2016.
Sec. 602. Research Management Plan.
Requires the Administrator to develop a research management plan for the ISS. Directs the Administrator to establish a process to support ISS National Lab users in identifying requirements for transportation of research supplies to the ISS and to develop an estimate of transportation requirements needed to support users of the ISS National Lab. Directs the Administrator to identify existing research and support equipment that are manifested for flight and to provide a description of the status, budget and milestone of research equipment that were completed or in-development prior to being cancelled. Requires the Administrator to establish an advisory panel under the Federal Advisory Committee Act to monitor the activities and management of the ISS National Lab.
Sec. 603. Contingency Plan for Cargo Resupply.
Requires the Administrator to develop a contingency plan and arrangements to ensure the continued viability and productivity of the ISS in the event that U.S. commercial cargo resupply services are not available after the Space Shuttle is retired and to deliver the plan within one year of enactment of the Act.
SUBTITLE B – Space Shuttle.
Sec. 611. Flight Manifest.
Establishes that the Utilization flights ULF-4 and ULF-5 shall be considered part of the Space Shuttle baseline flight manifest and shall be flown prior to the retirement of the Space Shuttle. Requires the Administrator to take all necessary steps to fly one additional Space Shuttle flight to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) to the ISS prior to the retirement of the Space Shuttle. Establishes that the Space Shuttle be retired following the completion of the baseline flight manifest and the additional flight carrying the AMS, events which are anticipated to occur in 2010.
Sec. 612. Disposition of Shuttle-Related Assets.
Requires the Administrator to provide a plan for the disposition of the remaining Space Shuttle orbiters and other Space Shuttle program-related hardware and facilities after the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet and to not dispose of any Space Shuttle-related hardware prior to the completion of the plan, which shall be submitted to Congress within 90 days on the enactment of the Act.
Sec. 613. Space Shuttle Transition Liaison Office.
Directs the Administrator to establish an office within NASA’s Office of Human Capital Management to assist local communities affected by the termination of the Space Shuttle program, which will be operated until 24 months after the last Space Shuttle flight.
SUBTITLE C – Launch Services.
Sec. 621. Launch Services Strategy.
Requires the Administrator to develop a strategy for providing launch services in support of NASA’s small and medium science, space operations, and exploration missions as preparation for awards to follow up on the current NASA Launch Services contracts and to provide this report within 90 days of the enactment of the Act.
TITLE VII – EDUCATION
Sec. 701. Response to Review.
Requires the Administrator to develop a plan identifying actions taken or planned in response to the recommendations of the National Academies report, “NASA’s Elementary and Secondary Education Program: Review and Critique,” and to provide this report within one year of the enactment of the Act.
Sec. 702. External Review of Explorer School Program.
Requires the Administrator to arrange for an independent external review of the Explorer Schools program and provide the report within one year of the enactment of the Act.
TITLE VIII – NEAR EARTH OBJECTS
Sec. 801. In General.
Expresses Congress’ support of the policy direction in P.L. 109-155 for NASA to detect, track, catalogue and characterize the physical characteristics of near-Earth objects equal to or greater than 140 meters in diameter.
Sec. 802. Findings.
Includes findings on the potential threat posed by near-Earth objects and the need to prepare the appropriate policies and procedures.
Sec. 803. Requests for Information.
Directs the Administrator to issue requests for information on a low cost space mission to rendezvous with the Apophis asteroid, and a medium-sized space mission with the purpose of detecting near-Earth objects equal to or greater than 140 meters in diameter.
Sec. 804. Establishment of Policy.
Requires the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a policy for notifying Federal agencies and relevant emergency response institutions of an impending NEO threat if near term public safety is at stake, to recommend a Federal agency or agencies to be responsible for protecting the Nation from a near-Earth object that is anticipated to collide with Earth and implementing a deflection campaign, in consultation with international bodies, should one be required.
Sec. 805. Planetary Radar Capability.
Requires the Administrator to maintain a planetary radar that is, at minimum, comparable to the capability provided through the NASA Deep Space Network Goldstone facility.
Sec. 806. Arecibo Observatory.
Expresses Congress’ support for the use of the Arecibo Observatory for NASA-funded near-Earth object-related activities, and requires the Administrator to ensure the availability of the Arecibo Observatory’s planetary radar to support these activities until the National Academies review of NASA’s approach for the survey and deflection of near-Earth objects is completed.
TITLE IX – COMMERCIAL INITIATIVES
Sec. 901. Sense of Congress.
Expresses the sense of Congress that a healthy and robust commercial sector can make significant contributions to the successful conduct of NASA’s space exploration program, and encourages NASA to look for such service opportunities and to the maximum extent practicable, make use of the commercial sector to provide those services.
Sec. 902. Commercial Crew Initiative.
Directs NASA to make use of U.S. commercially provided International Space Station (ISS) crew transfer and crew rescue services to the maximum extent practicable, limit the use, to the maximum extent practicable, of the Crew Exploration Vehicle to missions carrying astronauts beyond low Earth orbit once commercial crew transfer and crew rescue services that meet safety requirements become operational, facilitate the transfer of NASA-developed technologies to potential U.S. commercial crew transfer and rescue service providers, issue a notice of intent within 180 days of the enactment of the Act to enter into a funded Space Act Agreement with two or more commercial entities for a Phase 1 Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) crewed vehicle demonstration program with $50,000,000 to be authorized for FY 2009, and $50,000,000 to be authorized for the provision of ISS-compatible docking adaptors to be made available to the commercial crew providers selected to service the ISS. It also directs NASA to enter into a crew transportation services contract with a commercial provider if it demonstrates the ability to provide ISS crew transfer in accordance with safety requirements.
TITLE X – REVITALIZATION OF NASA INSTITUTIONAL CAPABILITIES
Sec. 1001. Review of Information Security Controls.
Requires the Comptroller General to complete a review of information security controls that protect NASA’s information technology and to provide a report to Congress no later than one year after enactment of the Act. Requires the Comptroller General to provide a restricted report detailing results of vulnerability assessments conducted by GAO on NASA’s network resources within one year of the enactment of the Act.
Sec. 1002. Maintenance and Upgrade of Center Facilities.
Requires the Administrator to ensure that adequate maintenance and upgrading of Center facilities is performed on a regular basis, to develop a budget plan to reduce maintenance and upgrade backlog by 50 percent over the next five years, and to deliver a report to Congress on the results on these activities with the FY 2011 budget request.
Sec. 1003. Assessment of NASA Laboratory Capabilities.
Requires the Administrator to arrange for an independent external review of the overall quality of NASA’s laboratories.
TITLE XI. OTHER PROVISIONS
Sec. 1101. Space Weather.
Directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a plan for sustaining space-based measurements of solar wind from the L1 Lagrangian point in space and to submit the plan within one year of the enactment of the Act.
Requires the Administrator, in coordination with the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other relevant agencies, to initiate a research program to conduct or supervise research projects on impacts of space weather to aviation and to facilitate the transfer of technology from space weather research programs to Federal agencies with operational responsibilities and to the private sector.
Requires the Administrator to arrange for the National Research Council to conduct a study on the impacts of space weather on the current and future United States aviation industry, and to provide the results of the report no later than one year after the enactment of the Act.
Sec. 1102. Space Traffic Management.
Requires the Administrator, in consultation with other appropriate agencies of the Federal government, to initiate discussions with the appropriate representatives of other spacefaring nations to determine the appropriate framework under which information intended to promote safe overall operations in outer space can be shared.
Sec. 1103. Study of Export Control Policies Related to Civil and Commercial Space Activities.
Requires the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to conduct a study of the impact of current export control policies and implementation directives on the U.S. aerospace industry and its competitiveness in global markets, as well as on the ability of U.S. government agencies to carry out cooperative activities in science and technology, including the impact on research, and to provide the report to the Congress within 9 months of the enactment of the Act.
Sec. 1105. National Academies Decadal Surveys.
Directs the Administrator to enter into agreements on a periodic basis with the National Academies for independent assessments of the status and opportunities for Earth and space science discipline fields and Aeronautics research, to recommend priorities for research and programmatic areas over the next decade, to include whenever possible independent estimates of the costs and technical readiness of missions assessed, and to identify conditions that would warrant reexamination of the priorities established.
Sec. 1106. Innovation Prizes.
Amends Section 104 of P.L. 109-155 by replacing paragraph “(b) TOPICS” with language requiring the Administrator to consult widely in selecting topics for prize competitions and suggesting potential prize competition topics.
Amends section 104 of P.L. 109-155 by replacing “$10,000,000” in “(i)(4)” with “$50,000,000”.
NASA was given over $100 million in taxpayers money to build the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), a spacecraft designed to measure the energy budget of our warming planet from the unique vantage of a million miles away.
Even though it is fully completed over five years ago, DSCOVR is still sitting in a box at the Goddard Space Center – likely for political reasons.
In 2006, Anderson filed a FOIA request with NASA, receiving only letters from scientists to NASA concerned about the cancellation, but no documents about the internal decision-making process.
In 2007, NOAA proposed a joint NASA-NOAA mission with the private launch company Space Services Inc. using the DSCOVR satellite.Anderson now reports on his 2007 FOIA request to NOAA on the fate of DSCOVR:
My request was sent in November. I was told my documents would be emailed on December 11. Then I got call from NOAA General Counsel Hugh Schratwieser before Christmas telling me that it going to take longer than they thought but I should get the document package in early January. Mr. Schratwieser also assured me NOAA takes pride in their compliance with the Freedom of Information Act and that I shouldn’t worry.
I have since sent five unanswered emails to NOAA requesting updates on my request. Government bodies like NOAA have a legal obligation to respond to FOIA requests in 20 working days. It is now over three times that long and counting.
Since I was repeatedly told over the last two months that the package of documents was very close to being assembled, I can only assume that it is now complete but being held up for political reasons.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), today released a draft report entitled Political Interference with Climate Change Science Under the Bush Administration.
The report is based on the committee’s January 30 and March 19 hearings, depositions, and interviews of government officials on White House censorship and manipulation of governmental climate change science over the last 16 months.
Scientists, reports, and testimony from NOAA, NASA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Climatic Data Center, and the Environmental Protection Agency were affected.Findings include:
- Media requests to speak with federal scientists on climate change matters were sent to Council on Environmental Quality for White House approval
- The White House edited congressional testimony regarding the science of climate change
- CEQ Chief of Staff Phil Cooney and other CEQ officials made at least 294 edits to the Administration’s Strategic Plan for the Climate Change Science Program to exaggerate or emphasize scientific uncertainties or to deemphasize or diminish the importance of the human role in global warming
- The White House insisted on edits to EPA’s draft Report on the Environment that were so extreme that the EPA Administrator opted to eliminate the climate change section of the report
- CEQ eliminated the climate change section of the EPA’s Air Trends Report
- CEQ Chairman James Connaughton edited the August 2003 EPA legal opinion disavowing authority to regulate greenhouse gases
The NASA Administrator's Speech to Office of Inspector General Staff, the Subsequent Destruction of Video Records, and Associated Matters
Since early 2006, Robert Cobb, the inspector general of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has been under investigation for allegations of misconduct. After a review of 79 allegations, in early 2007, the Integrity Committee of the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE), an organization of agency inspectors general, issued a report finding that Mr. Cobb had abused his authority and demonstrated the appearance of a lack of independence from the agency’s top officials, particularly Sean O’Keefe, NASA’s former administrator. Most of the allegations came from current and former employees of NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).
- Ms. Evelyn R. Klemstine
- Mr. Kevin Winters
- Mr. Paul Morrell
- Mr. Michael Wholley
Redacting the Science of Climate Change, Government Accountability Project ReportWitnesses
- Dr. James J. McCarthy, Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography, Harvard University, Board Member, Union of Concerned Scientists
- Sheldon Rampton, SourceWatch, Co-Author of “Trust Us, We’re Experts!”
- Tarek Maassarani, Government Accountability Project
- Jeff Kueter, George C. Marshall Institute
2:06 The chair recognizes Dana Rohrabacher.
Rohrabacher: If ever there was a case of the pot calling the kettle black, this is it. There is ample evidence of prominent scientists complaining that they have not been able to get grants if they question the quote global warming consensus.
What I see happening more and more in the debate over global warming is people not answering the questions from prominent scientists – there are hundreds on my website – there is a dismissal of the public debate. That is about as arrogant and anti-scientific as there is.
There have been consensuses in the past that have been dead wrong, and one or two scientists that haven’t been getting the grants that advance the science.
What people are doing. Just challenge who’s paying for your research. (He accidentally started to say “illegal immigration” instead of “global warming”.)
100 times more funding on the pro-global warming side than on those people trying to disprove that theory.
I’ve been hearing about the consensus for ten years even as I hear more and more about people getting cut out. These are not people, these are people who are the heads of scientific departments. The head of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute. People are influenced by the lure of getting government grants.
This hearing is looking in the wrong direction for scientists pressured to do the wrong thing.
2:12 Gordon: I know that gravity and global warming are pretty well established. There’s 100% certainty there is global warming. It seems there’s a new industry in town to create doubt where there is none to provide a hook for special interests.
2:13 Baird I have concerns about the possible misuse of science on all sides. I’ve seen industry hire hired guns and I’ve seen environmental groups do the same. As a scientist myself, I take this very seriously.
2:14: The chair introduces the panel.
2:16 Sheldon Rampton The power that science wields in modern society is that is able to create knowledge as reliable as any human endeavor. Its prestige makes it an attractive target, however. Advertising, public relations, and lobbying form what should be called a modern propaganda industry.
PR firms use a “third party” technique. The client is the first party, the audience the second party. It helps to use a third party that seems independent. “Put your words in someone else’s mouth.” Scientists, doctors are very useful third party spokesmen. In public policy debates it can be used to minimize or exaggerate dangers.
The tobacco industry is well known for its manipulation of science. The first clear link between smoking and lung cancer was found in the 1950s. A few years ago documents showed a campaign to plant letters in scientific journals, paying scientists to put their names on the letters. The industry’s law firms did the actual drafting of the letters.
As the WSJ reported, many of the articles under the byline of prominent academics are written by drug company ghostwriters.
Area after area: Air quality, water quality, product safety, nutrition. The manipulation of science inevitably has a corrupting influence on science itself.
McCarthy I was the co-chair of IPCC Working Group 2 in 2001; the president-elect of the AAAS, on the board of UCS, the Alexander Agassi professor at Harvard University. I will show how Exxon-funded efforts have distorted the record on climate change.
In 2005 the academies of science in the G8 plus China, India, and Brazil put out a statement: The science of climate change is now clear enough that nations should take immediate action.
How is then that the non-scientific organizations and a few individuals are able to cast doubt?
Smoke, Mirrors and Hot Air documents how Exxon has adopted the tobacco industry’s tactics and some of the same organizations and people to confuse the public on global warming science.
Atmosphere of Pressure shows how federal scientists have felt the pressure of political interference.
I congratulate the House for passing legislation to extend whistleblower protections to scientists. Scientists should not be subject to undue restrictions on media access.
Congress needs to recognize Exxon-Mobil’s disinformation campaign for what it is and avoid being influenced by the protestations of a few individuals funded by the campaign.
2:30 Maassarani As lead investigator I conducted more than 40 interviews with scientists and officials, and reviewed 1000s of FOIA documents, and more than 100 published articles and Congressional documents. The control restricted interviews and press releases. A NOAA scientist complained that media requests dropped from 2-3 a week to 2-3 a month. A NASA scientist’s release was edited to minimize its impact. Some scientists have given up trying to issue press releases or have media contacts.
Restrictive policies and practices are characterized by inconsistencies on criteria and who is responsible. Directives, off the record, are enforced by low-level political appointees.
Their effect has been to misrepresent and underrepresent knowledge of federal climate change scientists.
GAP asks Congress to strengthen its oversight functions to ensure that independent science is the basis of policy making.
2:35 Kueter He talks very fast. Reasonable people can reach different conclusions. Discussing these different interpretations is not confusing the public. There’s a group of people wearing Exxpose Exxon shirts behind him. Conclusions drawn from incomplete science represent personal preference. The media’s role is to report, not to judge. Claims that this confuses rather than informs presupposes a foresight that does not exist.
Dr. Happer when in the Clinton-Gore administration questioned the VP’s position on global warming and the ozone layer and was summarily dismissed.
Our opinions long predate any support of corporations.
The UCS report single us out for close scrutiny. It fails to challenge the substance our work. The pursuit of federal funding can create pressure to conform to current beliefs.
Whose work is funded is less relevant than the quality of their work.
2:41 Miller Rampton, is this campaign what you’re talking about?
Rampton Exxon-Mobil is just one company. In the 1990s, the coal/gas industry created Information Council for the Environment’s goal was to reposition global warming as theory, not fact. They reuse the same scientists and people to make there seem as if there’s a huge amount of debate when there’s not.
2:43 Miller Scientists think truth exists and it’s their job to find it. PR people think truth may be created or at least shaped. Could you describe what the harm is in thinking that way?
McCarthy Truth is not a certainty. If anyone alleges we know the details of climate change with any certainty, we should question that. The representation of a contrary view, especially those supported by industry, have represented as facts information that are not part of the scientific record.
2:44 Miller A joke is that administrators hate having scientists on faculty panels because when you change the information they change their positions.
McCarthy If you go back 20 years ago or so it was difficult to find a consensus that the globe was warming; 10 years later it was hard to find statements that people were definitively causing it. If anyone could find the consensus wrong you’d have Nobel Prizes all over the place.
2:46 Miller How well does Rampton’s model fit what you found in your report?
Maasarani Rampton described one end of the construction of the debate. What we have in the government is the deconstruction of statements of the mainstream scientists.
2:48 Rohrabacher When I made a joke about dinosaur farts it was presented as my opinion. It shows you how dishonest this debate has come. When we talk about this “consensus” this is what I’m talking about.
Let me note I have a few statements. The Dutch Meteorological guy. Richard Lindzen. Antonio Esperenza lost their funding.
William Happer (he’s pronouncing it “Harper”) was fired by Al Gore because he was skeptical of the global warming theory.
Timothy Ball. “It’s one of the greatest deceptions in the history of science.”
William Grey. “I had NOAA money for 30 years. When Gore started directing some of the environmental stuff, I couldn’t get any money.”
These are examples of the suppression.
There are hundreds of such scientists. They’re getting cut off from their research. Yet we’re complaining about someone’s press release being edited.
Nobody suggests there isn’t some kind of warming going on in the planet. There has been a change. That’s because over a 150 years there’s been a one degree change in the temperature. They had started that change at the end of the mini-Ice Age. We have had many many changes in the temperature of the earth. Those cycles were caused by solar activity, probably the same one going on right now. Probably as important, if not more important, than human activity.
Why is the temperature going up on Mars? Is that because of all the human-like activity going on in Mars? I don’t think so.
I consider myself open-minded on this. I’m never going to tell someone I’m not going to listen to someone’s arguments. We have blaming Exxon for it. I applaud the young people wearing their t-shirts for participating. There are a lot of interest groups that manipulate people. I think it’s good for the debate.
2:56 Baird This is not just about climate change. I believe the evidence about climate change is quite compelling. It’s reall about the distortion of science. I believe this administration has put undue stress on federal agencies. I share the broad concern about the distortion of scientific policy. Reproductive health, federal advisory committees.
Mr. Rampton, your points about the power given to scientists cut both ways.
Are there standards in the scientific community about one must do before signing on to a public letter? Can someone just sign on?
2:59 Rampton Essentially no.
Baird Are you equally concerned by people signing on to either side of the issue?
Rampton I think scientists have every right to talk about whatever they want. I think scientists think because they are expert in a field they think they can speak with equal authority on other issues.
3:01 Baird I think Science Magazine rushed articles to press to influence public policy.
3:02 McCarthy The AAAS should always be concerned by their reputation. Three years ago the UCS first becoming aware of the abuses of our federal agencies first issued a report. The Union worked a great deal to make sure was a very crisp document. The first sixty people were not just random people. Winners of the the National Medal of Science, former presidential advisors, heads of major research institutions. Noone said “I won’t sign it” because it was wrong. It was vetted very carefully.
Any effort to rush something without the process with the scientific body would be irresponsible.
Baird When your report came out we held rump hearings because the chairman would not let us hold hearings.
3:05 Rothman What do you recommend to prevent the abuse of federal scientists by the government?
Kueter Transparency. Require that peer-reviewed studies have data archived for scrutiny by independent researchers. Use devil’s advocates that don’t necessarily agree with the consensus on an issue.
Rothman I’m more concerned about the twisting or censoring of scientific opinion.
Maasarani We have an extensive list of recommendations. Clear and transparent media policies that can require prior notifications but that eliminates the need for required pre-approval, routing, drafting of anticipated questions and answers, and to reaffirm the personal views exception.
McCarthy I congratulated Congress on the whistleblower act. Scientists should be able to reject a document that changes the meaning of their intent.
Rampton Medical journals have dealt with a fairly similar problem. Whatever a scientist finds they should be able to publish or announce their findings regardless of what is found.
3:11 Miller The tobacco industry knew before federal researchers the adverse effects of smoking. A month ago William Brennan testified the Bush Administration accepted the AAS finding and the IPCC report. What are we to believe?
Maasarani It’s going to be more and more difficult to hold the position the Bush administration held earlier. Perhaps that’s what you’re getting at here.
McCarthy It is a puzzle. In the spring of 2001 when Bush announced he would no longer honor his campaign announcement to regulate carbon it came just after the third report of the IPCC and asked the AAAS to look at the report. The US delegation to the IPCC is formed by the State Department. Even though things are being said, at the level the work was being done there’s a different story.
3:16 Rohrabacher The GAP report while it has the innuendoes we have heard today lacks specific charges. We can make innuendoes all we want and we can ignore the things that are very blatant on the other side of the aisle.
For example, James Hansen, Mr. Hansen complained his press releases were being manipulated. Last week in a Senate hearing he acknowledged he had been interviewed 14,000 times on global warming. Maybe it was 1000 times. This is what I saw in the press. That doesn’t indicate there’s some suppression going on. There’s some guy who thinks his opinions are more important than anyone else’s, who thinks he’s speaking for NASA.
I’d like to remind everybody when people don’t have the right kind of science to back things up. The first incident I had like this 19 years ago Al Gore sat right there. He demanded the president declare an ozone emergency. Guess what. A week later they found out it was a misreading of instruments from a Piper Cub airplane.
I’ll end it with a question. Are there or are there not, you keep mentioning the consensus, there’s warming on Mars, instead of confronting arguments, do you agree there are a significant number of scientists who are not part of the consensus?
Miller: We are gloriously past the time, but a brief answer.
McCarthy: There is a range of views on these issues. The IPCC is a very conservative process. Could it be the sun? You can ask that question. The solar variability as best estimated is about 1/10th the 2 watts per square meter of insulation we’ve accumulated. So there’s no paper. That’s the way the science proceeds. If anyone could find such solar variability that would be included.
Kueter: I point to the uncertainties in the IPCC reports. That should be the issue.
Maasarani: I’d like to correct some misstatements. Press releases were edited to downplay science. 14,000 interviews was a misstatement. That was 14,000 google hits. We’ve seen these problems emerging in the recent past. We believe that one incident of political manipulation of science is unacceptable.
3:26 Miller: Rohrabacher pointed out gaps in the report. I was impressed how far you could get with FOIA.
Maasarani: NASA got back to us with their media policy and that’s it. EPA was nonresponsive. It’s beyond me how they would have no responsive documents. NOAA: we had scientists give us documents directly that they sent up to the FOIA response that never got to us.
3:29 Baird: Two ethical questions. I used to teach a statistics and methods of science, and history of science course. If a scientist secretly submits research, should a supervisor be restricted by the law from blocking that?
3:32 Rohrabacher: I was a professional journalist.
3:33 Baird:* What if the supervisor says it can’t go through?
Rohrabacher: I think it should all be open.
Rothman: It’s Dr. Baird’s time.
Baird: I’m aware of cases where scientists could not put their name on a study. Now the converse, if a supervisor recognizes flaws in a study.
McCarthy: It’s not unusual for scientists to have their reports reviewed in house. There are corrective measures.
Baird: Once the study is published it gets printed thousands of times.
3:37 Rothman: Can the panel give me at least three examples of problems that have taken place in this administration?
Maasarani: A confidential source positioned in the public affairs office. This person was told “You make him be quiet, stop him from speaking to the public.” This person was summoned to the politically appointed supervisor’s office.
McCarthy: 21% of respondents experienced pressure to drop “climate change” or similar words. 58% personally experienced interference at least once in the last 5 years.
Kueter: We haven’t analyzed this administration.
Rothman: You’re more of a historian, then.
Kueter: I’m a public policy analyst. This book does take a historical look.
3:42 Rohrabacher: I’m dismayed you couldn’t come up with any examples. Give me names. Give me the examples. Give me three examples. Send them to my office.
Rothman Do you deny the results of the UCS report?
Rohrabacher: I do. When you ask scientists, do you want a higher budget for global warming? Sure, I think it’s really discriminatory against our group of people that there isn’t a higher budget.
I would never suggest we overlook suppression by this administration. If you have evidence specifically.
Maasarani They’re unnamed for a reason.
Rohrabacher There would be someone who would be willing to say something now. There’s always someone willing to say something anonymously.
Maasarani Tom Knudsen has had media requests denied. Weatherall has had press releases squashed.
Rohrabacher: They were denied press release? That’s not suppression at all.
Maasarani: They were press releases announcing important research.
Rohrabacher: Important research according to that researcher.
Maasarani: These were announcing publications of peer-reviewed research.
Rohrabacher: You’re ignoring that the lead scientist from the Department of Energy was sacked by Al Gore.
3:49 McCarthy We’re talking about much more than squashing of press releases. To make references that someone fired years ago, or a Dutch or Italian scientist didn’t get their funding. My last four funding proposals were denied. I’m not claiming there’s some kind of political process. I can’t think of any time there was any policy by a foundation that this is the kind of research we should be supporting. Scientists don’t get research trying to prove something.
Rothman: Is there any evidence there was a conspiracy or effort at the highest levels of the administration to censor work?
Maasarani: It depends how do you define a conspiracy. White House offices are sending these signals through political appointees. In some clear instances to suppress communications by scientists. I’m not prepared to call this a conspiracy. Certainly there’s something going on.
Kueter: Your colleages posted the deposition of Phil Cooney. I suggest you take the time to read that document. Quite plainly the coordination doesn’t exist.
Rothman: Do you have any reason to question the statements of the other panelists?
Kueter: I have not reviewed their reports for that purpose.
3:54 Rothman: I look forward to looking at your recommendations. The hearing is adjourned.
On Monday, March 19, 2007, the Committee held a second oversight hearing on allegations of political interference with government climate change science. Witnesses at the hearing included the former Chief of Staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the current Chairman of CEQ, the Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and a former NASA public affairs officer. At the hearing, the Committee examined evidence of White House efforts to minimize the significance of climate change.
- Philip Cooney, former Chief of Staff, White House Council on Environmental Quality
- Dr. James Hansen, Director, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- George Deutsch, former public affairs officer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- James Connaughton, Chairman, White House Council on Environmental Quality
- Dr. Roy Spencer, University of Alabama in Huntsville
The Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on January 30 regarding political interference in the work of government climate change scientists. In preparation for the hearing, Chairman Waxman and Ranking Member Davis have requested documents from the Council on Environmental Quality related to allegations that officials edited scientific reports and took other actions to minimize the significance of climate change.Witnesses
- Dr. Drew Shindell, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NASA
- Mr. Rick Piltz, former Senior Associate, U.S. Climate Change Science Program
- Dr. Francesca Grifo, Senior Scientist and Director of the Scientific Integrity Program, Union of Concerned Scientists
- Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., Professor in the University of Colorado’s Environmental Studies Program and a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Evnvironmental Sciences.