A Week of Testimonies

It's taking all weekend to sort through everything that happened last week, a banner one if you're concerned about scientific integrity. Thankfully, we can stream the past.

The biggest science integrity news of the week had to be the House Committee on Government and Reform's continued investigation on political interference with climate science. From Chairman Waxman's opening comments:

Since our first hearing on January 30, we have received over eight boxes of documents from the White House Council on Environmental Quality. The document production is not yet complete. But some of the information the Committee has already obtained is disturbing. It suggests there may have been a concerted effort directed by the White House to mislead the public about the dangers of global climate change.

It is too early in this investigation to draw firm conclusions about the White House's conduct. But today's hearing will help us learn more about those efforts and provide guidance on whether further investigation is warranted.

A video of the hearing and transcripts of testimony can be found here. The highlight is the testimony of Philip Cooney, former Council on Environmental Quality Chief. He's best known as the non-scientist who watered down three major climate change reports, then skittered off to work at Exxon Mobile immediately after these actions came to light. A PDF of his testimony is available here. E&E Daily reported on this portion of the hearing.

Cooney said he believed his White House duty was to "align executive branch reports with Bush administration policy."

Cooney repeatedly said that his edits were based on a government-requested 2001 report on climate science by the National Academy of Sciences.

"I had the authority and responsibility to make recommendations to the documents in question, under an established interagency review process," Cooney said. "I did so using my best judgment, based on the administration's research priorities, as informed by the National Academy of Sciences."

But Democrats questioned Cooney's remarks, based on internal administration documents they obtained during their ongoing probe and on Cooney's 15 years of work for the American Petroleum Institute before he joined the administration.

"When I look at the role you played at API and at the White House, they seem virtually identical," Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said. "In both places, you seem to seed doubt on global warming."

Waxman and other Democrats went line by line through Cooney's edits, comparing them with the NAS text they said offered a far different view of climate science. Source (subscription required)

This was Cooney's first time testifying publicly since leaving CEQ.

Arguably as big (and certainly commanding more media attention) was Al Gore's testimony before the House Science and Environment Committee.

If you watch the testimony, you'll see that some members of the Committee were less interested in learning the science then in creating a bit of a Robert's Rules circus. (Hat tip to Chris Mooney on the YouTube video).

If Gandhi's adage "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win" holds true, Al Gore may be well on his way to winning. From Media Matters:

"Fox News' Garrett and others mischaracterized or omitted Gore's response to Inhofe on his energy use"

"On The Big Story, Cato Institute fellow falsely asserted that IPCC findings contradict Gore's "beyond shrill" claim"

"Carlson on Gore: '[H]e's going to global warming hell'"

And like a moment of Zen, Jon Stewart comes along and just makes fun of everyone.

About midway through the segment, Gore illustrates how not to use the climate change in medical terms metaphor. The Congressmen get ripped into as well. In his comedic skewering, Stewart is about as fair and balanced as you could ask for.


More like this

"align executive branch reports with Bush administration policy."

Another Downing Street Memo-moment? "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

I'm afraid a lot of the people in the WH - and its supporters - don't even realize how fundamentally wrong such an attitude is.

By Willem van Oranje (not verified) on 26 Mar 2007 #permalink