Fossil-Fuel Industry Apologist Michael Levi Becomes Top White House Energy Advisor

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 20 Jul 2016 14:39:00 GMT

Michael LeviMichael Levi, a prominent apologist for the Keystone XL pipeline, natural-gas exports, and other fossil-fuel industry priorities, has joined the White House, Hill Heat has learned. Yesterday, Levi began work as a Special Assistant to the President for Energy and Economic Policy on the National Economic Council staff.

For ten years, Levi was Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow for energy and climate policy. Previously, Levi was a nuclear non-proliferation expert at the Brookings Institution, while pursuing his doctorate at the University of London.

Possessed of undeniable brilliance, Levi has no formal training in climate science, economics, or energy policy; his undergraduate and master’s degrees are in physics, and his doctorate is in War Studies. In 2008 he began publishing on climate policy, overseeing a major CFR Task Force report on U.S. climate policy chaired by Tom Vilsack and George Pataki. He quickly established himself as a prominent (and convenient) climate centrist-cum-contrarian—embracing the urgency of climate action, while criticizing other proponents of strong climate policy and providing convoluted arguments for the continued expansion of fossil-fuel and nuclear projects. (Levi calls his approach a most-of the above policy.) Over the years, his pursuits included taking a skeptical view of green jobs, promoting tar sands exploitation, and defending natural gas as a bridge fuel.

Levi’s position as CFR’s energy and climate expert was endowed by David Rubenstein, the founder of the Carlyle Group, a major investor in the oil and gas industry.

Levi is part of a generation of industry-friendly climate experts whose influence is on the rise with the ascension of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, whose numbers also include Heather Zichal (BA, Rutgers), the Rhodium Group’s Trevor Houser (BA, City College of New York) and Columbia University’s Jason Bordoff (Harvard Law). These people are pundits whose careers as climate experts have been sponsored by fossil-fuel industry investors despite a lack of training in climate science. They are now in position to shape United States climate policy if Clinton succeeds President Obama in November.

On Senate Floor, Sen. Whitehouse Calls for RICO Investigation of 'Climate Denial Machine'

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 20 Oct 2015 23:52:00 GMT

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, called for a civil RICO investigation of ExxonMobil and the “climate denial machine” on the floor of the U.S. Senate Tuesday afternoon. Whitehouse, who speaks on climate change every week that the Senate is in session, had raised the possibility of such an investigation in a speech in May that compared the fossil-fuel industry’s campaign of deception to that of the tobacco industry.

With new investigations by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times about ExxonMobil’s history of knowing climate deception, and rising calls from the public led by Climate Hawks Vote for civil or criminal action by the Department of Justice, Whitehouse again took the floor.

Whitehouse took on his critics, mocking the “histrionics on the far right” and describing the Wall Street Journal editorial page as the”Troll-in-Chief for the fossil-fuel industry.”

The senator concluded with a call for a civil RICO investigation of the “climate denial scheme,” from the fossil-fuel giants like ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers to the organizations they back, like the Wall Street Journal and the Manhattan Institute.

This was Senator Whitehouse 115th “Time to Wake Up” climate speech.

Whatever the motivation of the Wall Street Journal and other right-wing climate denial outfits, it is clearly long past time for the climate denial scheme to come in from the talk shows and the blogosphere, and have to face the kind of truth-testing audience that a civil RICO investigation could provide. It’s time to let the facts take their place, and let climate denial face that “greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth.”

With his speech, Whitehouse joined the growing ranks calling for a DOJ investigation of the fossil-fuel industry, which now include Merchants of Doubt author Naomi Oreskes, Representatives Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier of California, and Democratic presidential candidates Martin O’Malley and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

The Climate Hawks Vote petition, which unlike Sen. Whitehouse’s call includes language open to criminal investigation of ExxonMobil’s activities, can be found here.

Transcript:

Mr. President, last week, former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Robert M. White passed away at the age of 92. Dr. White served this nation under five presidents and pioneered the peaceful use of satellites to understand our weather and climate. “We do have environmental problems and they’re serious ones, the preservation of species among them,” he said, “but the climate is the environmental problem that’s so pervasive in its effects on the society. . . . The climate is really the only environmental characteristic that can utterly change our society and our civilization.”

That was in 1977. That same year, James F. Black, a top scientific researcher at the Exxon Corporation gave that company’s executives a similar warning: “[T]here is general scientific agreement,” he told Exxon’s Management Committee, “that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels.” According to emerging reports, Exxon executives kept that warning a closely guarded company secret for years.

I rise today for the 115th time to urge that we wake up to the threat of climate change. I rise in the midst of a decades-long, purposeful corporate campaign of misinformation, which has held this Congress and this nation back from taking meaningful action to prevent that utter change. Scrutiny of the corporate campaign of misinformation intensifies, and scrutiny of the fossil fuel polluters behind it intensifies, and the regular cast of right-wing, climate-denier attack dogs have got their hackles up.

On May 6, I gave a speech here on the Floor. The speech compared the misinformation campaign by the fossil fuel industry about the dangers of carbon pollution to the tobacco industry’s misinformation campaign about the dangers of its product.

The relevance of that comparison is that the United States Department of Justice, under the civil provisions of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute—RICO for short, brought an action against the tobacco industry. The United States alleged that the tobacco industry’s misinformation campaign was fraudulent. And the United States won, in a lengthy and thorough decision by United States District Judge Gladys Kessler.

Go ahead and read them. DOJ’s complaint and Judge Kessler’s decision can be found at the websites of the Justice Department and the Public Health Law Center, respectively, and are linked on my website, whitehouse.senate.gov/climatechange. I will warn you: the judge’s decision is a long one—but it makes good reading.

The comparison is strong. There are whole sections of the Department of Justice civil RICO complaint, and whole sections of Judge Kessler’s decision, where you can remove the word “tobacco” and put in the word “carbon,” and remove the word “health” and put in the word “climate,” and the parallel with the fossil fuel industry climate denial campaign is virtually perfect.

This is not an idea I just cooked up. Look at the academic work of Professor Robert Brulle of Drexel University and Professor Riley Dunlap of Oklahoma State University. Look at the investigative work of Naomi Oreskes’s book Merchants of Doubt, David Michaels’s book Doubt is Their Product, and Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner’s book Deceit and Denial, describing the industry-backed machinery of deception.

Look at the journalistic work of Neela Banerjee, Lisa Song, David Hasemyer, and John Cushman Jr. in the recent reporting of InsideClimate News about what ExxonMobil knew about climate change versus the falsehoods it chose to tell the public. Look at a separate probe by journalists Sara Jerving, Katie Jennings, Masako Melissa Hirsch, and Susanne Rust in the Los Angeles Times.

From their work, we now know that Exxon, for instance, knew about the effect of its carbon pollution as far back as the late 1970s, but ultimately chose to fund a massive misinformation campaign rather than tell the truth. “No corporation,” said professor and climate change activist Bill McKibben, “has ever done anything this big and this bad.”

Here’s how Judge Kessler depicts the culpable conduct of the tobacco industry: “Defendants have intentionally maintained and coordinated their fraudulent position on addiction and nicotine as an important part of their overall efforts to influence public opinion and persuade people that smoking is not dangerous.”

Compare that to the findings of Dr. Brulle, whose research shines light on the dark money campaigns that support climate denial. The climate denial operation, to quote Dr. Brulle, is “a deliberate and organized effort to misdirect the public discussion and distort the public’s understanding of climate.”

The parallels between what the tobacco industry did and what the fossil fuel industry is doing now are so striking, I suggested in my speech of May 6, that it was worth a look: that civil discovery could reveal whether the fossil fuel industry’s activities cross the same line into racketeering. I said that again in an op-ed piece I wrote in the Washington Post on May 29 regarding the civil RICO action against tobacco.

Oh, my, what caterwauling has ensued from the fossil fuel industry trolls! Here’s a quick highlight reel of the tempest of right-wing invective.

One climate denier, Christopher Monckton, declared, “Senator Whitehouse is a fascist goon.” Another denier compared me to Torquemada, the infamous torturer of the Inquisition. And the official Exxon responder got so excited about this suggestion he used a word I am not even allowed to say on the Senate Floor! He forgot Rule One in crisis management: don’t lose your cool.

The right-wing website Breitbart.com responded by calling me “the preposterous Democrat senator for Rhode Island,” and saying the notion that there is an industry-funded effort to mislead the American people about the harm caused by carbon pollution is “a joke,” a conspiracy theory on par with Area 51 or the faking of the moon landing. Tell that to tobacco.

Paul Gigot, editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal, said global warming concerns, “are based on computer models, not by actual evidence, not by actual evidence of what we’ve seen so far.”

The polluter-funded George Marshall Institute, a long-time climate denial outfit, wrote that this was an attack on constitutional rights; a presumptuous argument on their part given that there’s no constitutional right to commit fraud.

Similarly, Calvin Beisner, founder of a phony-baloney industry front called the Cornwall Alliance, said the same: the mere suggestion represents a “direct attack on the rights to freedom of speech and the press guaranteed by the First Amendment” and is “horrifically bad for science.” Coming from a science denial outfit, that concern for science is rich. And again, fraud is not protected by the First Amendment.

In the National Review, I was accused of wanting to launch “organized crime investigations . . . against people and institutions that disagree with [me] about global warming,” in order to “lock people up as Mafiosi.”

“Crime”? “Lock people up”? Let’s remember, Mr./Madam President, that we are talking about civil RICO, not criminal. No one went to jail in the tobacco case. Investigating the organized climate denial scheme under civil RICO is not about putting people in jail. Query why the National Review would mislead people about such an obvious fact.

All a civil RICO case does is get people to have to actually tell the truth, under oath, in front of an actual impartial judge or jury, and under cross-examination—which the Supreme Court has described as “the greatest legal invention ever invented for the discovery of truth.” No more spin and deception.

But that’s exactly the audience polluters and their allies can’t bear, so the flacks set off criminal smokescreens and launch “fascist goon” and “Torquemada” hysterics. A few weeks ago, 20 scientists agreed with me, and wrote a letter to Attorney General Lynch supporting the idea of using civil RICO.

That was too much for the Troll-in-Chief for the fossil fuel industry: the Wall Street Journal editorial page. The Wall Street Journal editorial page has long been an industry science-denial mouthpiece. They use the same playbook every time: one, deny the science; two, question the motives of reformers; and three, exaggerate the costs of reforms.

When scientists warned that chlorofluorocarbons could break down the atmosphere’s ozone layer, the Wall Street Journal ran editorials—for decades—devaluing the science, attacking scientists and reformers, and exaggerating the costs associated with regulating CFCs. When acid rain was falling in the Northeast, the Wall Street Journal editorial page questioned the science, claimed the sulfur dioxide cleanup effort was driven by politics, and said fixing it carried a huge price tag. Ultimately, the Journal’s editorial page, after years of this, had to recant and admit that the cap-and-trade program for sulfur dioxide “saves about $700 million annually compared with the cost of traditional regulation and has been reducing emissions by four million tons annually.”

Now, on climate change, the Journal is back to the same pattern: deny the science, question the motives of climate scientists, exaggerate the costs of tackling carbon pollution. For decades, the Journal has persistently published editorials against taking action to prevent manmade climate change.

On this the editorial page said, by talking about civil RICO I’m trying to “forcibly silence” the denial apparatus. “Forcibly silence”? First of all, against the billions of the Koch Brothers and ExxonMobil, fat chance that I have much force to use. And “silence”? I don’t want them silent; I want them testifying, in a forum where they have to tell the truth. Is the Journal really saying that in a forum where deniers have to tell the truth their only response would have to be silence? Making them tell the truth forcibly silences them? Because the only thing civil RICO silences is fraud.

By the way, the Journal editorial never mentions that the government won the civil RICO case against tobacco on very similar facts. That would detract from the fable.

Who does the Journal cast as the victim in their fable? None other than Willie Soon, who they said I singled out for—here’s what they said—having “published politically inconvenient research on changes in solar radiation.” Actually, what’s inconvenient for Dr. Soon is that the New York Times reported that he gets more than half of his funding from big fossil fuel interests like ExxonMobil and the Charles G. Koch Foundation, to the tune of $1.2 million, and didn’t disclose it. Dr. Soon’s research contracts even gave his industry backers a chance “for comment and input” before he published, and he referred to the papers he produced as “deliverables.” In case you don’t know it, that’s not how real science works. Of course, none of this sordid financial conflict is even mentioned by the Wall Street Journal editorial page. They’d rather pretend Dr. Soon is being singled out for “politically inconvenient” views. Please.

It gets better. In the editorial, the role of neutral expert commenting on this goes to Georgia Tech’s Judith Curry. She offers the opinion that my “demand . . . for legal persecution . . . represents a new low in the politicization of science.” This is a particularly rich and conflict- riddled opinion, as Ms. Curry is herself a repeat anti-climate witness performing regularly in committees for Republicans here in Congress. Again, no mention of this interest of Ms. Curry’s by the Wall Street Journal editorial.

The fossil fuel industry’s climate-denial machine rivals or exceeds that of the tobacco industry in size, scope, and complexity. Its purpose is to cast doubt about the reality of climate change in order to forestall a move toward cleaner fuels and allow the Kochs and Exxons of the world to continue making money at everybody else’s expense. And the Wall Street Journal editorial page plays its part in the machine.

Even though it’s only the editorial page, and not the Journal’s well-regarded newsroom, facts and logic are supposed to matter. Ignoring the successful tobacco litigation; omitting the salient fact of Dr. Soon being paid by the industry involved in his research; and bringing in a climate denier as their neutral voice without disclosing that conflict—I’d like to see them get this editorial by the editorial standards of their own newsroom.

So why all the histrionics on the far right, Mr./Madam President? Why the deliberate subterfuge between civil and criminal RICO? Why the name-calling? Have we perhaps touched a little nerve? Have we maybe hit a bit too close to home? Are the cracks in the dark castle of denial as it crumbles maybe beginning to rattle the occupants?

Whatever the motivation of the Wall Street Journal and other right-wing climate denial outfits, it is clearly long past time for the climate denial scheme to come in from the talk shows and the blogosphere, and have to face the kind of truth-testing audience that a civil RICO investigation could provide. It’s time to let the facts take their place, and let climate denial face that “greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth.”

I yield the floor.

Capitol Hill Climate Action Rally

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 21 May 2014 21:00:00 GMT

Senators Barbara Boxer and Sheldon Whitehouse — co-chairs of the Climate Action Task Force — will kick off the Capitol Hill Climate Action Rally to wake up Congress to climate change. At the rally, they will literally sound the alarm on climate change, by setting alarms on phones, tablets, or hand-held devices to ring at 5 p.m. EST.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse Gears Up Climate-Focused OCEANS PAC

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 14 Mar 2014 00:14:00 GMT

Oceans PAC, the climate-focused political action committee Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) launched last year, is gearing up for the 2014 midterms. Whitehouse is the most aggressive U.S. Senator on climate policy: he has been giving weekly “Time To Wake Up” speeches on climate change since the landfall of Superstorm Sandy, is one of the founders of the Senate Climate Action Task Force and led the #Up4Climate talkathon last week.

The PAC supports “candidates who support oceans and environmental issues”, Whitehouse explains:
Welcome to the OCEANS PAC website. I created the OCEANS PAC because candidates who support oceans and environmental issues need our support. Indeed, the other side is funded by big polluters who don’t hesitate to put millions of dollars behind their lies. As I’ve said many times – I’m tired of bringing a knife to a gun fight. The OCEANS PAC is one way we can fight back.

And fight we must, because climate change is not a problem that will go away. Climate change is not a problem that can wait. But climate change is a problem that can be solved. We can and we must leave a healthy environment, which includes healthy oceans, to our children and grandchildren. The public is ready for action; unfortunately, the missing piece is Congress. Congress is sleepwalking through history. It is time for Congress to hear the alarms, roll up our sleeves, and do what needs to be done. It is time to wake up. But for Congress to wake up, it needs more members who will support ocean and environmental issues – OCEANS PAC will support those candidates.

This is certainly not something I can do alone. There are high stakes involved and I need your help. I hope you will accompany me on this new journey, and that I can count on your enthusiastic support as we go forward.

The PAC’s supported candidates include the four members of the Rhode Island congressional delegation; Correy Westbrook, candidate for Florida’s 8th Congressional District against incumbent Bill Posey; Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Carl Levin; and incumbent senators Chris Coons (Del.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Al Franken (Minn.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), and Tom Udall (N.M.).

Landrieu and Pryor are notable for their opposition to climate legislation. In 2011, Landrieu and Pryor voted for the Jim Inhofe Energy Tax Prevention Act, which would have prohibited the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from promulgating any regulation concerning, taking action relating to, or taking into consideration the emission of a greenhouse gas to address climate change. At the time, Landrieu and Pryor were supported by the Koch Industries PAC. Now, Koch’s political wing is running a “barrage” of ads against the senators.

Whitehouse: Senate Inaction Influenced by Carbon Polluter Lobbyists

Posted by Wonk Room Wed, 13 May 2009 23:29:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), in a Senate hearing on the EPA budget Tuesday morning, decried the extraordinary amount of spending by corporate global warming polluters to lobby Congress. Reading from a report on new lobbying disclosures, Whitehouse noted that carbon polluters such as electric utilities and oil and gas companies have spent nearly $80 million on lobbying just in the first quarter of 2009. Whitehouse concludes:

So if we wonder why the Senate is the last place in America that still doesn’t get it – that climate change is a real problem for people and that carbon pollution is something that people should pay for when they emit it, big utilities, big industry – gee, connect the dots.

Watch it:

“For as long as there’s been pollution,” Sen. Whitehouse explained, “there has been a constant battle with polluters who don’t want to pay the costs of their pollution, either preventing or cleaning it up”:
They’d like to just dump it and have it be somebody else’s problem. There’s absolutely nothing new about that. Polluters don’t want to pay. What’s new is our understanding of what the costs are of carbon pollution. Economic costs, environmental costs, wildlife and habitat costs, and as we’ve recently learned, very significant national security costs.

The E&E News story Whitehouse entered in the Congressional Record explains how carbon-industry lobbyists are vastly outspending environmental groups and clean energy companies:

Thus far in 2009, all environmental groups combined have spent a grand total of $4.7 million on lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The Nature Conservancy, which has spent $850,000 thus far, tops the list.

The various renewable energy companies have spent a grand total of $7.5 million, with the biggest spender there being the American Wind Energy Association which has spent just over $1.2 million.

By comparison, Exxon Mobil Corp. alone has spent more than $9.3 million in the first few months of 2009. The company’s lobbying totals exceed any other single corporation or organization except the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has spent a total of $15.5 million.

The chamber, which has been by far the single biggest lobbying force in Washington over the last decade, has likewise been active in the energy debate this year, though it is unclear from the disclosure records what amount - if any - the organization has spent on lobbying of lawmakers. Its totals are not included in the calculations for any energy-specific industries.

Other heavyweights in the energy sector include: Chevron Corp. at $6.8 million, ConocoPhillips at $6 million, BP at $3.6 million and Marathon Oil at $3.4 million. All four are among the 20 biggest lobbying spenders in any sector in the first few months of 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

As for electric utilities, the biggest single lobbying spender is Southern Co. at $3.7 million, followed by the Edison Electric Institute at $2.6 million, American Electric Power Co. Inc. at $1.7 million and Exelon Corp. at $1.54 million.

Sen. Whitehouse: 'I Call On Administrator Johnson To Resign' 1

Posted by Wonk Room Wed, 30 Jul 2008 12:04:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

Following a press conference with senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) formally announced on the Senate floor their request for a Department of Justice investigation into the potential criminal conduct of EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, whom he called “a man after Spiro Agnew’s own heart.”

Whitehouse listed five charges of “putting the interests of corporate polluters before science and the law” in ozone, lead, soot, tailpipe emissions, and global warming pollution; and four charges of degrading “the procedures and institutional safeguards that sustain the agency;” before discussing his apparent dishonesty in testimony before Congress>

And in what is perhaps the gravest matter of all, I believe the Administrator deliberately and repeatedly lied to Congress, creating a false picture of the process that led to EPA’s denial of the California waiver, in order to obscure the role of the White House in influencing his decision.

Today, Senator Boxer and I have sent a letter to Attorney General Mukasey, asking him to investigate whether Administrator Johnson gave false and misleading statements, whether he lied to Congress, whether he committed perjury, and whether he obstructed Congress’s investigation into the process that led to the denial of the California waiver request.

Watch it:

After listing yet more “signs of an agency corrupted in every place the shadowy influence of the Bush White House can reach,” Sen. Whitehouse concluded:

Administrator Johnson suggests a man who has every intention of driving his agency onto the rocks, of undermining and despoiling it, of leaving America’s environment and America’s people without an honest advocate in their federal government.

This behavior not only degrades his once-great agency – it drives the dagger of dishonesty deep in the very vitals of American democracy.

The American people cannot accept such a person in a position of such great responsibility. I am sorry it has come to this, but I call on Administrator Johnson to resign his position.

I yield the floor.

Watch it:

Join Sen. Whitehouse in calling for Johnson’s resignation here.

Full text of Sen. Whitehouse’s speech:

Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Madam President, for most of its nearly four-decade history, Americans could look to the Environmental Protection Agency for independent leadership, grounded in science and the rule of law. It was an agency whose sole mission was to protect our environment and our health.

At its founding, EPA’s first administrator, William Ruckelshaus, stated unequivocally, and I quote: “EPA is an independent agency. It has no obligation to promote agriculture or commerce; only the critical obligation to protect and enhance the environment.”

During the tenure of Administrator Stephen Johnson, we have seen that clear mission darkened by the shadowy handiwork of the Bush White House, trampling on science, ignoring the facts, flouting the law, kneeling before industry polluters, defying Congress and the courts, and all in the service of rank and venal purposes.

Under Administrator Johnson, EPA is an agency in distress, in dishonor, and in bad hands. Events last week have shed new light on the extent of the damage done to this great agency, but the evidence of Mr. Johnson’s dismal record has been growing for many months.

The charges are serious, and fall in three separate categories: his repeated decisions putting the interests of corporate polluters before science and the law, on questions critical to the protection of our environment and the health of the American people; his deliberate actions to degrade the procedures and institutional safeguards that sustain the agency; and his apparent dishonesty in testimony before Congress.

The particulars, Madam President, are these:

Count one: on pollution from ozone. The EPA under Administrator Johnson departed from the consistent recommendations of agency scientists, public health officials, and the agency’s own scientific advisory committees, and instead set an ozone standard that favored polluters.

The standard he set was inadequate to protect the public, especially children and the elderly, from the harmful effects of ozone pollution, from asthma and lung disease.

Indeed it was so inadequate that EPA’s own Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) took the unique step of writing to the Administrator to state that they “do not endorse the new primary ozone standard as being sufficiently protective of the public health” and that the EPA’s decision “fail[ed] to satisfy the explicit stipulations of the Clean Air Act that you ensure an adequate margin of safety for all individuals, including sensitive populations.”

Setting this inadequate standard, against the evidence, was a dereliction of Administrator Johnson’s duty to the agency he leads, and of EPA’s duty to protect the health of the American people.

Count two: on pollution from lead. Administrator Johnson has proposed a standard that fails to sufficiently strengthen the regulation aimed at limiting exposure to lead pollution.

Lead has poisoned tens of thousands of children in Rhode Island, and many more all over the country. Both an independent scientific review panel and EPA’s own scientific staff recommended a lead standard of no greater than 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter, yet Administrator Johnson proposed a range of 0.1 to 0.5 micrograms.

Mr. Johnson further diluted even that lax standard by using what public health advocates have labeled “statistical trickery,” allowing polluters a longer period of time over which to average the amount of lead they discharge into the air.

Again, by not adequately protecting children from lead, Administrator Johnson was derelict in his duty to his agency.

Count three: on pollution from soot, technically called “particulate matter,” Administrator Johnson bowed to pressure from industry and failed to strengthen a decade-old standard limiting particulate matter pollution from smokestacks.

Again, the agency’s own scientific advisory committees had called for a tougher standard to protect public health. Again, Administrator Johnson yielded to polluters. Again, Administrator Johnson failed in his duty to the agency he leads.

Count four: on vehicle tailpipe emissions, Administrator Johnson denied a waiver that would have allowed the state of California, my state of Rhode Island, and many other states to enact strict restrictions on global warming pollution from automobiles.

EPA staff indicated in briefing materials that “we don’t believe there are any good arguments against granting the waiver.” EPA lawyers cautioned that all of the arguments against granting the waiver were “likely to lose in court.” Yet Administrator Johnson issued an unprecedented denial of the waiver.

I will separately discuss my grave concerns about the Administrator’s testimony on this matter (I believe he has lied to us), but for this purpose now, looking only at the substantive outcome, in ignoring the law, the dictates of science, the recommendations of his regulatory and legal staff, the role of Congress, the wishes of the states, and the welfare of the American people, Administrator Johnson failed again in his duty to the agency he leads.

Count five: on global warming pollution, in defiance of the Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts v. E.P.A., Administrator Johnson has failed to take action after the Court’s ruling that EPA has the authority, under the Clean Air Act, to regulate greenhouse gas emissions that pollute our air.

It is now nearly 18 months since the Court’s decision, and the EPA has shown no indication it will act before President Bush leaves office. In ignoring a ruling of this nation’s highest court empowering him to act on a matter important to the public health of Americans, Administrator Johnson again failed in his duty to the agency he leads.

But it was not enough for Administrator Johnson to rule for the polluters on pollutant after pollutant.

Administrator Johnson has also systematically dismantled institutional safeguards and processes that protect his agency’s integrity and guide its mission.

Jonathan Cannon, who served at EPA during the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton administrations, warns of “extreme friction within the agency and institutional damage … demoralizing the legal staff, and … further separating staff from the political leadership at the agency.” We saw similar sabotage of institutional safeguards in the Gonzales Department of Justice, and this institutional damage raises four further charges:

Count six: on the question of the Agency’s legal integrity, under Administrator Johnson, the EPA offered legal arguments for its insufficient standards so shallow they provoked ridicule by the courts that heard them. When EPA tried to defend its weak mercury “cap and trade” system, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals – hardly a liberal bench – accused the agency of employing the “logic of the Queen of Hearts” in attempting to evade the intent of Congress and the clear meaning of the Clean Air Act.

The same court said EPA’s argument under the Clean Air Act allowing power companies to avoid upgrading their pollution control technologies made sense only in “a Humpty Dumpty world.” In adopting Wonderland legal analysis that contravenes the clear will of Congress and embarrasses his agency before the courts, Administrator Johnson failed in his duty to uphold the mission of the agency he leads.

Count seven: on the integrity of EPA’s scientific advisory boards, Administrator Johnson did not just ignore their recommendations. He willingly allowed those panels to be infiltrated by the very industries they are meant to regulate and control.

For example, an employee of Exxon Mobil served on the panel to assess the carcinogenicity of ethyl oxide – a chemical manufactured by Exxon Mobil.

Another scientist received research support from Dow Agro and served on that panel, even though ethyl oxide is also manufactured by Dow Agro.

A scientist whose research was funded by American Cyanamid and CYTEC sits on the EPA panel on acrylamide – which is manufactured by American Cyanamid and marketed by CYTEC. EPA didn’t see any conflict of interest.

By way of contrast, at the beck and call of the American Chemistry Council, an industry lobby group, Administrator Johnson removed Dr. Deborah Rice, a prominent toxicologist, from a scientific review board investigating chemicals used in common plastic goods.

The industry argued that she had a conflict of interest. Incredibly, the conflict of interest was that, at a public hearing in Maine as a representative of the state’s government, she had stated her professional opinion regarding the dangers associated with these chemicals, and the industry didn’t like her professional opinion.

Not only was Dr. Rice removed, but in a particularly Orwellian maneuver, the fact that she had ever been on the panel was stricken from the advisory committee’s records.

In packing EPA’s scientific panels to please industry polluters, Administrator Johnson is guilty of a particularly chilling dereliction of his duty to the agency he leads.

Count eight: a report issued on April 23 by the Union of Concerned Scientists, entitled “Interference at the EPA,” uncovered widespread political influence in EPA decisions. The report found that 60 percent of EPA career scientists surveyed had personally experienced at least one incident of political interference during the past five years.

The report documented, among other things, that many EPA scientists have been directed to inappropriately exclude or alter information from EPA science documents, or have had their work edited in a manner that resulted in changes to their scientific findings.

The survey also revealed that EPA scientists have often objected to, or resigned or removed themselves from, EPA projects because of pressure to change scientific findings.

Allowing this corrosive political influence to persist among the career scientists at EPA is yet another dereliction of Administrator Johnson’s duty to the agency he leads.

Count nine: Administrator Johnson has twisted the very administrative procedures of EPA, to allow the White House Office of Management and Budget secret influence over agency decisionmaking.

For example, the IRIS process for determining the toxicity of chemicals allows OMB three separate chances to exert its dark influence, at the beginning, in the middle, and again at the end. In the words of the GAO, this process is “inconsistent with the principle of sound science that relies on, among other things, transparency.”

This is not just a potential concern. The current chair of EPA’s clean air scientific advisory panel has testified that the ozone standard was “[set]…by fiat behind closed doors,” that the entire agency scientific process was “for naught,” that “the OMB and the White House set the standard, even though theoretically it was set by the EPA Administrator,” and that as a result, “Willful ignorance triumphed over sound science.” That is her testimony.

In manipulating his agency processes to let willful ignorance triumph over sound science, Administrator Johnson has again been derelict in his duties to this once-proud agency.

The third and final category of charges relates to Johnson’s relationship to Congress. In defiance of his charge under the Constitution of the United States, Administrator Johnson has personally and repeatedly refused to cooperate with Congress in our efforts to conduct proper oversight of the executive branch.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has repeatedly requested documents in connection with EPA’s denial of the California waiver and its failure adequately to regulate ozone pollution, in an effort to determine whether the White House improperly influenced these decisions.

Administrator Johnson has rebuffed these requests. He has repeatedly declined to appear before the EPW Committee to explain his agency’s policies, and when he has appeared, he has resorted to canned, stock, evasive answers in response to legitimate questions about political influence infiltrating his agency.

Just last week, he refused to appear before the Judiciary Committee, on which I also serve, for a hearing to look further into his failure to cooperate with Congress and provide documents and other information we have sought.

And in what is perhaps the gravest matter of all, I believe the Administrator deliberately and repeatedly lied to Congress, creating a false picture of the process that led to EPA’s denial of the California waiver, in order to obscure the role of the White House in influencing his decision.

Today, Senator Boxer and I have sent a letter to Attorney General Mukasey, asking him to investigate whether Administrator Johnson gave false and misleading statements, whether he lied to Congress, whether he committed perjury, and whether he obstructed Congress’s investigation into the process that led to the denial of the California waiver request. I ask unanimous consent that the letter and its attached recitation be made part of the record as an exhibit to these remarks.

Madam President, there is more. These are not isolated counts, but signs of an agency corrupted in every place the shadowy influence of the Bush White House can reach.

Administrator Johnson forced the resignation of EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Midwest, Mary Gade, who was locked in a struggle with corporate polluter Dow Chemical Co. The circumstances are highly suspicious. Now, Administrator Johnson has replaced Ms. Gade with a former attorney for the automobile industry, whose record on behalf of the environment has been described as “horrible.”

The EPA under Administrator Johnson has reduced the reporting burdens on industries that release toxic chemicals into our land, sea and air.

It has weakened enforcement and monitoring by opening fewer criminal investigations, filing fewer lawsuits, and levying fewer fines against corporate polluters.

It has failed to protect agency employees who pointed out problems, reported legal violations, or attempted to correct factual misrepresentations made by their superiors, and has fostered an atmosphere where agency scientists fear reprisals.

And in the face of widespread criticism that his agency is in crisis, and that he is a pawn of the White House and its allies in polluting industries, Administrator Johnson’s only response is to label those concerned – many of whom are dedicated career employees of his agency – as “yammering critics.” A man after Spiro Agnew’s own heart.

The EPA has a vital mission. When this great agency is weakened and its work subverted by political interference, there is a great cost to this country.

When EPA scientists and career employees become discouraged as their voices go unheard, there is a great cost to our country.

When the people of America lose faith that the Environmental Protection Agency can live up to its name, there is a great cost to our country.

And when those who were chosen to serve this country instead serve themselves, their political allies, and their patrons, there is a great and lasting cost to this country. It is a failure of integrity, and that is a failure we can no longer afford.

We demand integrity – democracy demands integrity – of our public officials, not just because integrity is an abstract moral good, but because democracy fails without it.

Integrity sustains our democracy in at least three ways.

The first is integrity to the truth. In government, when the facts are clear enough for responsible people to act, it is a failure of integrity to fail to confront those facts. As the late Senator from New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, famously said, “You are entitled to your own opinion; you are not entitled to your own facts.”

America has traditionally been characterized by candid and practical assessment of the facts, a can-do attitude about responding to those facts, and bold decision-making to find our way through those facts. Practical, can-do, optimistic, realistic – that’s the American way.

When government doesn’t face the truth about the facts, it will almost certainly fail to meet the demands of the moment and fail to serve the interests of our people. That is what is happening now at EPA. They simply won’t face facts plain to any responsible person.

But facts are stubborn things. They do not yield to ideology or influence. They do not care about your politics. Unanswered, they stand, getting worse, and eventually the piper must be paid.

If facts aren’t candidly, realistically, and responsibly faced, not only will the problem get worse, but the very capacity of government to address problems candidly, realistically, and responsibly will itself degrade when not put to use. So there are ugly, lasting consequences when government officials fail at their obligation to meet the truth head on.

Another integrity is to honesty. As failures of truth have a harsh cost in government, so do failures in honesty.

I have sworn in new Assistant United States Attorneys. I have sworn in new state Assistant Attorneys General. I have presided at nomination hearings.

Every time, I have seen the same thing – a little spark of fire; a moral fire sparked when someone makes a choice to earn less money than they could otherwise, to work a lot harder than they would otherwise, to dare greater challenges than they might otherwise, all in order to serve a larger purpose, to serve an ideal, to serve America.

This spark of fire inspires young men and women to tackle problems that may seem unmanageable. This spark of fire keeps people at their desks late into the night when others have gone home to their families. This spark of fire brings idealism and principle to decisions, and illuminates a moral path in the complexities of government.

The value in government of that spark of fire, burning in the hearts of a thousand men and women – our real thousand points of light – is immeasurable. EPA is sustained by that spark of fire.

But this spark of fire is quenched in the toxic atmosphere of dishonesty when guiding principles are “help your friends,” “please your patron,” “dodge your responsibilities,” and “fudge the truth.” Dishonesty and idealism do not cohabit.

The third integrity is competence. This is a vital integrity. If we are to address the present and looming problems a new administration will have to solve—a war without end in Iraq, an economy in a sickening slide, a broken health care system, a country divided into two increasingly separate Americas, a public education system that is failing, the dangerous weight of an alarming national debt, foreign policies that have unhinged us from responsible world opinion, bickering and irresolution on problems like immigration and global warming – we must see competence as a core integrity.

We must demand competence of government officials as a bare minimum, a core necessity. Unfortunately, as one discouraged official has complained, “In the Bush administration, loyalty is the new competence.”

Madam President, Administrator Stephen Johnson is a failure in all these dimensions.

From everything we have seen, Administrator Johnson has done the bidding of the Bush Administration and its political allies without hesitation or question.

He has tried to cover up his dereliction of duty with evasive and discreditable testimony; he has acted without regard for the law or the determinations of the courts; he has damaged the mission, the morale, and the integrity of his great department; and he has betrayed his solemn duty to Americans who depend on him to protect their health, particularly our very youngest and our very oldest, those whose vulnerability is greatest.

Administrator Johnson suggests a man who has every intention of driving his agency onto the rocks, of undermining and despoiling it, of leaving America’s environment and America’s people without an honest advocate in their federal government.

This behavior not only degrades his once-great agency – it drives the dagger of dishonesty deep in the very vitals of American democracy.

The American people cannot accept such a person in a position of such great responsibility. I am sorry it has come to this, but I call on Administrator Johnson to resign his position.

I yield the floor.

Draft Oversight Report: Systematic White House Climate Change Censorship

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 10 Dec 2007 18:54:00 GMT

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

White House Threatens Veto of Energy Bill

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 03 Dec 2007 20:49:00 GMT

In a letter to Congress, White House economic advisor Allan Hubbard reiterated President Bush’s October 15 veto threat of the energy bill deal brokered by the Democratic leadership, leaving no room for compromise from the president’s demands.

On October 15, I wrote you to outline a basic framework for a bill that would not compel the President’s senior advisors to recommend a veto. Based on the limitd information we have received, it seems the provisions under discussion would not satisfy those criteria. In fact, it appears Congress may intend to produce a bill the President cannot sign.

The Administration continues to believe that all the elements described in my earlier letter constitute the appropriate framework for energy legislation. Press reports indicate that your draft energy bill would fail to meet at least some of these conditions, for example by including a mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), a title increasing taxes, or an expansion of Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements.

Further criticisms include the difference between the Congressional renewable fuels standard and the White House’s preferred “alternative fuels standard”, and not excluding the EPA’s Clean Air Act authority from CAFE regulation.

The full letter is available here.

Lobbying by the U.S. Department of Transportation Against State Actions to Address Climate Change (cancelled)

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 25 Sep 2007 14:00:00 GMT

Internal e-mails show that Transportation Secretary Mary Peters personally directed a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign approved by the White House to oppose EPA approval of California’s landmark standards reducing greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.

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

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 28 Mar 2007 18:00:00 GMT

Redacting the Science of Climate Change, Government Accountability Project Report

Witnesses
  • 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.

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