[House Hearing, 110 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
ALLEGATIONS OF POLITICAL INTERFERENCE WITH THE WORK OF GOVERNMENT
CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENTISTS
COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT
AND GOVERNMENT REFORM
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED TENTH CONGRESS
JANUARY 30, 2007
Serial No. 110-1
Printed for the use of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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COMMITTEE ON OVERSISGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM
HENRY A. WAXMAN, California, Chairman
TOM LANTOS, California TOM DAVIS, Virginia
EDOLPHUS TOWNS, New York DAN BURTON, Indiana
PAUL E. KANJORSKI, Pennsylvania CHRISTOPHER SHAYS, Connecticut
CAROLYN B. MALONEY, New York JOHN M. McHUGH, New York
ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS, Maryland JOHN L. MICA, Florida
DENNIS J. KUCINICH, Ohio MARK E. SOUDER, Indiana
DANNY K. DAVIS, Illinois TODD RUSSELL PLATTS, Pennsylvania
JOHN F. TIERNEY, Massachusetts CHRIS CANNON, Utah
WM. LACY CLAY, Missouri JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
DIANE E. WATSON, California MICHAEL R. TURNER, Ohio
STEPHEN F. LYNCH, Massachusetts DARRELL E. ISSA, California
BRIAN HIGGINS, New York KENNY MARCHANT, Texas
JOHN A. YARMUTH, Kentucky LYNN A. WESTMORELAND, Georgia
BRUCE L. BRALEY, Iowa PATRICK T. McHENRY, North Carolina
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of VIRGINIA FOXX, North Carolina
Columbia BRIAN P. BILBRAY, California
BETTY McCOLLUM, Minnesota BILL SALI, Idaho
JIM COOPER, Tennessee ------ ------
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, Maryland
PAUL W. HODES, New Hampshire
CHRISTOPHER S. MURPHY, Connecticut
JOHN P. SARBANES, Maryland
PETER WELCH, Vermont
Phil Schiliro, Chief of Staff
Phil Barnett, Staff Director
Earley Green, Chief Clerk
David Marin, Minority Staff Director
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held on January 30, 2007................................. 1
Grifo, Francesca, senior scientist and director of the
scientific integrity program, Union of Concerned
Scientists; Rick Piltz, former senior associate, U.S.
Climate Change Science Program; Drew Shindell, Goddard
Institute for Space Studies, National Aerodynamics and
Space Administration; Roger Pielke, Jr., professor,
environmental studies program, University of Colorado and
fellow, Cooperative Institute for Research in the
Environmental Sciences..................................... 51
Grifo, Francesca......................................... 51
Pielke, Roger, Jr........................................ 96
Piltz, Rick.............................................. 71
Shindell, Drew........................................... 91
Letters, statements, etc., submitted for the record by:
Cannon, Hon. Chris, a Representative in Congress from the
State of Utah, prepared statement of....................... 29
Clay, Hon. Wm. Lacy, a Representative in Congress from the
State of Missouri, prepared statement of................... 26
Cummings, Hon. Elijah E., a Representative in Congress from
the State of Maryland, prepared statement of............... 20
Davis, Hon. Danny K., a Representative in Congress from the
State of Illinois, prepared statement of................... 23
Davis, Hon. Tom, a Representative in Congress from the State
of Virginia, prepared statement of......................... 12
Grifo, Francesca, senior scientist and director of the
scientific integrity program, Union of Concerned
Scientists, prepared statement of.......................... 54
Pielke, Roger, Jr., professor, environmental studies program,
University of Colorado and fellow, Cooperative Institute
for Research in the Environmental Sciences, prepared
statement of............................................... 99
Piltz, Rick, former senior associate, U.S. Climate Change
Science Program, prepared statement of..................... 73
Sali, Hon. Bill, a Representative in Congress from the State
of Idaho, prepared statement of............................ 37
Shindell, Drew, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, National
Aerodynamics and Space Administration, prepared statement
Waxman, Hon. Henry A., a Representative in Congress from the
State of California, prepared statement of................. 4
Welch, Hon. Peter, a Representative in Congress from the
State of Vermont, letter dated January 30, 2007............ 145
Yarmuth, Hon. John A., a Representative in Congress from the
State of Kentucky, prepared statement of................... 46
ALLEGATIONS OF POLITICAL INTERFERENCE WITH THE WORK OF GOVERNMENT
CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENTISTS
TUESDAY, JANUARY 30, 2007
House of Representatives,
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,
The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m., in room
2154, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Henry A. Waxman
(chairman of the committee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Waxman, Kucinich, Cummings, Davis
of Illinois, Tierney, Clay, Watson, Lynch, Higgins, Yarmuth,
Braley, Norton, McCollum, Cooper, Van Hollen, Hodes, Murphy,
Sarbanes, Welch, Davis of Virginia, Shays, Platts, Cannon,
Duncan, Turner, Issa, Foxx, and Sali.
Also present: Representative Gilchrest.
Staff present: Phil Schiliro, chief of staff; Phil Barnett,
staff director/chief counsel; Kristin Amerling, general
counsel; Greg Dotson and Jeff Baran, counsels; Earley Green,
chief clerk; Teresa Coufal, deputy clerk; David Marin, minority
staff director; Larry Halloran, minority deputy staff director;
Jennifer Safavian, minority chief counsel for oversight and
investigations; Keith Ausbrook, minority general counsel; Ellen
Brown, minority legislative director and senior policy counsel;
Mason Alinger, minority deputy legislative director; A. Brooke
Bennett, minority counsel; Allyson Blandford, Jay O'Callaghan,
and Kristina Husar, minority professional staff members; Larry
Brady, minority senior investigator and policy advisor; Patrick
Lyden, minority parliamentarian and member services
coordinator; Brian McNicoll, minority communications director;
and Benjamin Chance, minority clerk.
Mr. Waxman. The meeting of the committee will come to
I want to welcome everyone to today's meeting. It is the
first hearing we are having this year, and it focuses on one of
the most important issues facing our Nation and the world,
Most of my colleagues know that I bring some strong views
to the subject. I have been working on global warming for
almost 20 years and introduced the first comprehensive global
warming bill in 1992. I believed then that the science on
global warming was compelling enough to warrant action, and in
the years since 1992, I believe the science has grown more and
But despite my strong views, I would never want scientists
to manipulate research so that they can tell me what they think
I want to hear. I don't want politically correct science. I
want the best science possible, and that is what today's
hearing is about.
For several years, there have been allegations that the
research of respected climate scientists was being distorted
and suppressed by the Bush administration. Some of these
reports claim that Phil Cooney, a former lobbyist for the
American Petroleum Industry, was put in charge of the Council
on Environmental Quality and imposed his own views on the
reports scientists had submitted to the White House.
The last Congress, under the leadership of Tom Davis, this
committee took the appropriate step and began investigating
whether the Bush administration was interfering with the
science of global warming for political reasons. I joined with
Chairman Davis in requesting routine documents from the White
House's Council on Environmental Quality. When the White House
resisted, we narrowed our request. When the White House
resisted again, we scaled back what had already been a
reasonable request, and when the White House resisted a third
time, we again tried to accommodate the President.
In addition to repeatedly narrowing our request, we
extended the deadlines we had suggested to the White House. But
even after all those courtesies, we have received virtually
nothing from this administration.
Last evening, we finally received a total of nine non-
public documents. Unfortunately, they add little to our
inquiry. In some cases, they do not even appear to be records
we were seeking.
It is a privilege to chair this committee. The Oversight
Committee is charged with an essential responsibility, bringing
accountability to our Government. We take this very seriously.
As chairman, I intend to be fair to every witness and to invoke
the committee's broad powers only when absolutely necessary.
But I also intend to be thorough, to insist on Congress' right
to receive relevant information and to do everything possible
to meet the important obligations we have to the American
In this instance, the committee isn't trying to obtain
State secrets or documents that could affect our immediate
national security. We are simply seeking answers to whether the
White House's political staff is inappropriately censoring
impartial Government scientists.
Last fall, our staffs viewed some of the documents the
committee is seeking in camera. As a result of this review, we
know that the White House possesses documents that contain
evidence of an attempt by senior administration officials to
mislead the public by injecting doubt into the science of
global warming and minimizing the potential dangers. I believe
Congress is entitled to this information and to these
According to the documents we have reviewed, administration
officials sought to edit an EPA report: First, to add
``balance'' by emphasizing the ``beneficial effects'' of
climate change. Second, they tried to delete a discussion of
the human health and environmental effects of climate change.
Third, to strike any discussion of atmospheric concentrations
of carbon because carbon levels are not a ``good indicator of
climate change,'' and four, to remove the statement that
``changes observed over the last several decades are likely
mostly the result of human activities.''
Some of the most questionable edits were urged by Phillip
Cooney, the former oil industry lobbyist who was the Chief of
Staff to the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Today, Ranking Member Davis and I are sending a letter to
the White House about these documents to urge the White House
to reconsider the confrontational approach it is now taking.
I am looking forward to hearing the testimony of today's
witnesses. We are fortunate to have the Union of Concerned
Scientists here and to have the opportunity to review their new
report on political interference in the scientific process.
I also want to welcome Dr. Drew Shindell to the committee.
Dr. Shindell is a top climate researcher at NASA's Goddard
Center. He will testify about the difficulties he has faced in
alerting the public to his important climate research. Dr.
Shindell is testifying on his own behalf today, and he has
earned our gratitude for having the courage to step forward.
I would also like to note that Rick Piltz is testifying
today for the first time. Mr. Piltz is the Government employee
who publicly objected when the Council on Environmental Quality
started overruling the views of climate scientists.
We are pleased that Roger Pielke is able to join us.
All of us have a right to our own views about the
seriousness of global warming, but we don't have a right to our
own science. This hearing and the committee's ongoing
investigation into political interference is aimed at ensuring
the American people receive the best possible science.
That concludes my statement.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Henry A. Waxman follows:]
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Mr. Waxman. I want to recognize Mr. Davis.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman, and
my best wishes to you as you bring your first oversight hearing
I should note the irony of having a global warming hearing
today on the coldest day of the year. In fact, one of my
colleagues remarked it is so cold today that Congressmen have
their hands in their own pockets just to keep warm. [Laughter.]
Seriously, though, I am pleased that in our first hearing,
we are continuing the committee's work on climate change. Last
year, we directed the committee to address this weighty and
politically charged issues in a non-partisan way.
I am proud that we are able to strip away partisan
differences and tackle an issue which most other committees had
steered well clear of. Our approach earned accolades from
groups like the Pew Center on Global Climate Change which
called our hearings, ``some of the most balanced and
informative climate change hearings in memory,'' and newspapers
like the Washington Post which described our work as
The committee's reputation is based on its commitment to
fair and responsible oversight, and I look forward to
continuing that tradition with you.
Mr. Chairman, I am no climate change denier. In fact, I
believe it is one of the most urgent matters we face. As I have
said before, there aren't many people left these days who would
argue global warming isn't happening per se. There is
widespread agreement that global mean temperatures increased
over the past century and that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
has contributed to this warming.
Furthermore, like you, I think it is important to determine
whether the administration or anyone else has attempted to
quash scientific findings. That is why together we have
requested documents from the Council on Environmental Quality
and why together we remain disappointed in the lackluster
production of those documents.
But, Mr. Chairman, I am concerned this morning that the
pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction, that is,
I am concerned that we have gone from legitimate conversations
about politicizing science to a potentially dangerous dynamic
that not only condones but heralds the suppression of
scientific dissent. For some it seems freedom of speech implies
only to those that agree with you. Let me explain.
We are seeing a dangerous trend toward inflammatory and
counter-productive hyperbole. When a top climatologist at the
Weather Channel calls for stripping meteorologists who express
any skepticism about man's contributions to climate change of
their certifications, we have probably gone too far. When so-
called eco experts liken skeptics to Holocaust deniers, we have
definitely gone too far.
This committee has earned a reputation as a truth-seeking
body. We are gatherers of fact. We let the chips fall where
they may. Knowledge, Mr. Chairman, is refined through
continuous inquiry and, yes, through skepticism.
Second, one of our witnesses will discuss this morning the
issue of politicizing science. But has it itself become
politicized? The title of today's hearing is telling. The mere
convergence of politics and science does not in itself denote
interference. I would caution the committee and policymakers
everywhere not to contribute to the naive notion that science
and politics can somehow be kept separate.
Should it really surprise anyone that leadership at a
Federal agency manages information in pursuit of their
interests or their agenda?
Is the choice of phraseology, for example, ``climate
change'' versus ``global warming,'' the province of science
alone or can it be allowed to reflect political as well as
Third, science, as we all know, evolves, living and
breathing through the power of evidence. Policy needs to evolve
along with it. Some in this room appear to believe we have
reached the end of scientific continuum, but scientific
consensus is not science. Sometimes it is nothing more than the
best guess of the group that gets the microphone first.
More than once strong scientific consensus of the past now
lies in history's mass grave of disproved crackpots. The miasma
theory of disease prevailed for a time because cholera
outbreaks seemed to be associated with bad-smelling water. Less
fetid water, though it reduced outbreaks, appeared proof of
cause and effect until the germ theory identified the real
The 19th century rain follows the plow theory attributed
increased rain in arid areas to increased agricultural
activities by man. Today it is understood that increased
vegetation and urbanization have only limited and local effects
on overall precipitation levels.
So in the debate about climate change attribution,
determining the role of human activity on measurable climate
changes, all of us--policymakers, scientists and those
fortunate enough to be neither--should take pains to maintain
the healthy skepticism that is at the heart of good science and
good policy. Without constant constructive doubt, both sides
would have us take leaps of faith over the science to
politically convenient conclusions.
A wise man once wrote that science is facts. Just as houses
are made of stones, so is science made of facts. But a pile of
stones is not a house and a collection of facts is not
Mr. Chairman, I requested the documents from CEQ because I
wanted to learn more about the allegations that administration
officials were trying to minimize the significance of climate
change. I requested them because I care about climate change
and, like you, want to do something about it.
I am no denier, but I am troubled by stories of scientists
unable to publish or even complete their research because they
are perceived as having the wrong answers or being on the wrong
side of the science, or the leveling of accusations that rely
on innuendo and inference to prove scientists' intentions is
nefarious when in fact often these scientists' only crime is
associating with ideas that conflict with those of their
accusers, or the notion that X policy action or inaction must
follow from Y scientific finding without regard to other
scientific findings or policy considerations such as economic
inhibitors or geopolitical concerns.
This committee takes very seriously its responsibility for
ensuring individuals remain able to speak freely. Under my
chairmanship and with your leadership, Mr. Chairman, we passed
hallmark whistleblower legislation which enhanced the rights of
Federal whistleblowers, giving them protection and confidence
as they speak up. The monumental challenge of climate change is
the latest test of free speech and whistleblower protections.
Again, Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this important
[The prepared statement of Hon. Tom Davis follows:]
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Mr. Waxman. Thank you very much, Mr. Davis.
I would like to ask, without objection, that we now call on
Members in order of seniority in which they appeared at this
hearing for an opening statement, should they wish to make one,
not to exceed 3 minutes. Without objection, that will be the
I would ask unanimous consent that the gentleman from
Maryland, Representative Gilchrest, be permitted to participate
in this hearing and in accordance with our committee practices,
he will be recognized for the purpose of an opening statement
and questioning after members of the committee have been
recognized. Without objection, so ordered.
I want to call on Mr. Cummings. Is he here?
Mr. Cummings. I am.
Mr. Waxman. OK.
Mr. Cummings. I will submit a statement for the record.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Elijah E. Cummings
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Mr. Waxman. Opening statements may be submitted by any
Member for the record, and we will keep the record open for
Mr. Davis, do you have an opening statement?
Mr. Davis of Illinois. Yes, thank you very much, Mr.
Chairman, and I shall be brief.
Global warming is a serious issue and has overarching on
our Nation and our world citizenry for we have only one Mother
Earth. There is no doubt that we must take measures to look
into this. We cannot and must not let politics trump science.
Too much is at stake.
Ask those sufferers of environmental catastrophes from an
extraordinarily strong hurricane season, most notably Katrina,
to families who were victims of unsound pesticide regulation,
whose children have suffered from the adverse effects on brain
development in fetuses and children.
Numerous well regarded and credible scientists have issued
reports with regards to climate change and its far reaching
consequences. Any effort by the White House Council on
Environmental Quality to alter or undermine the integrity of
such fact-finding is detrimental. We must take into full
account the sound scientific evidence that some of our best
minds have to offer and begin to comprehensively treat this
Ask the thousands of rescue workers in the World Trade
Center who were told by the EPA that the air was safe. Imagine
what would happen if political tampering of scientific data is
acceptable. This proclamation appears to be premature as our
Nation's heroes are now plagued by chronic and crippling lung
ailments. There are grave consequences from such action.
Again, I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Ranking
Member Tom Davis, for holding this hearing today. It is long
overdue, and I look forward to the expert panel of witnesses
who have come to share with us.
I yield back any additional time.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Danny K. Davis follows:]
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Mr. Waxman. Thank you very much, Mr. Davis.
Mr. Shays. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Quickly, I want to say climate change and global warming
are one and the same for me. When the President submitted,
President Clinton was negotiating the Kyoto agreement, the
Senate 100 to 0 said don't exclude China and India. The treaty
came back excluding China and India, and there were only about
five Members of the Senate who supported it. President Clinton
never asked for a vote in the Senate.
My big regret is that President Bush, whatever his feelings
were about the treaty, should have submitted it to the Senate
for its consideration without prejudice because I believe
frankly that there would have been less than 20 Members of the
Senate who would have supported the treaty, but now it is like
all of them would have.
I just conclude by saying that anyone who alters scientific
research, particularly on issues as important as this, should
quit or should be fired.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Mr. Shays.
Mr. Clay. Thank you, Chairman Waxman and Ranking Member
Davis for holding today's hearing.
I welcome our witnesses and commend Mr. Piltz and Dr.
Shindell on their courage in coming before this committee to
testify about their experiences with the Bush administration's
policy of misrepresenting global warming data for political
reasons. It is apparent that you are both committed to fully
disclosing the facts about global warming.
It is imperative that the integrity of scientific research
on global warming is ensured and that we do everything possible
to give our children and our grandchildren a healthy
environment. Reports that scientists working for Federal
agencies have been asked to change data to fit policy
initiatives are seriously disturbing and given the enormous
health risks posed by global warming, it is unconscionable that
any scientists would participate in such a dangerous plan.
Emerging threats to health from climate change include
malaria, lime disease and an alarming increase in asthma
incidences in the United States. The American Public Health
Association found that smog, increased pollen and carbon
dioxide are fostering an epidemic in asthma in America's
cities. The highest incidences of asthma in the United States
are among African American toddlers and low income toddlers.
Inner city children are most at risk for getting asthma due to
poor air quality, increasing temperatures and the high
concentration of carbon dioxide.
Political appointees have no business distorting the facts
or denying the realities of global warming. Global warming is
not a myth or a distant threat. It is a reality that demands
immediate action from our Government.
We must implement policies to develop more renewable energy
resources to drastically reduce automobile emissions and to end
our dependence on oil and other fossil fuels.
Unfortunately, the Bush administration has shown a blatant
disregard for the health of the American people. They have
shown they would rather safeguard the interests of big oil than
preserve the future of planet Earth. This administration has
not only failed to address the assault on climate change, they
have contributed to this crisis.
Global warming poses an overwhelming challenge to our
responsibility to protect the Earth for future generations. I
look forward to today's testimony and working with my
colleagues to meet this challenge and to put an end to this
administration's efforts to deny or undermine scientific
knowledge about the global warming crisis.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time and
submit my statement for the record.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Wm. Lacy Clay follows:]
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Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Mr. Clay.
Mr. Cannon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
There is some feedback happening in our mic system, I
think. Am I the only one hearing that? It would be really nice
to correct that if we have somebody available to do that.
Mr. Waxman. We have people working on it. Let me just ask
if all Members have their mics off in case any mic is on that
might be causing it.
Mr. Cannon. Mr. Chairman, my mic, when it is off, still
works, or so the switch is. I am not sure if we have a more
fundamental problem here.
Mr. Waxman. You ought to be careful what you say when your
mic might be on.
Mr. Cannon. It might be me. [Laughter.]
Mr. Waxman. Well, we will make the best of it. We have our
best people working on trying to correct the problem.
Mr. Cannon. One would hope that those would be at least of
the equality of some of the climate change scientists we have
in the world today.
I wanted to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this
hearing and also associate myself with the remarks of the
ranking member and Mr. Shays, in that the fact is I believe
there is global warming and therefore it is a global problem,
not just an American problem. On the other hand, I think there
are some serious questions as to whether or not global warming
is actually caused by man or how much of global warming is
caused by man.
What a relief. We can now think. This is all a plot to
distort the thinking of our panel members, I am sure.
I would like to submit a statement for the record, Mr.
Chairman, and not belabor this but point out that science is by
nature, especially when science needs to be funded, it is
political. Suppression happens all over the place, and
unfortunately suppression is complicated by bad science done by
not very smart scientists who have an agenda that is more a
matter of belief of emotion than it is clarity of thinking. In
this whole process, I hope we come to be able to distinguish
between what is an agenda and what is science and what is the
data and how do we draw conclusions from that data.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Chris Cannon follows:]
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Mr. Waxman. Thank you very much, Mr. Cannon.
Now we go to Ms. Watson.
Ms. Watson. I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for
convening today's hearing and your timeliness on this issue.
The United States has only 2 percent of the world's oil
reserves but accounts for 25 percent of the world's energy
demand. Of the global supply, we consume 43 percent of motor
gasoline, 25 percent of crude petroleum, 25 percent of natural
gas and 25 percent of electricity. Currently, American demand
for all these commodities is rising dramatically.
The administration announced in 2002 that reducing
greenhouse emissions and increasing spending on climate
research to reduce emissions 18 percent by 2012 was a top
priority, but their actions have not matched this pledge. Funds
have been redirected for these purposes to spend on nuclear
power and other non-renewable programs that do not reduce
In addition, the allegation of political interference with
the work of Government scientists is an additional example of
how this administration is not taking the threat of global
warming seriously. Global warming is occurring at a rapid pace
today, and the consensus of the worldwide scientific community
is that it will accelerate during the 21st century.
Global warming and our related energy policies also raise
national security concerns. One such concern is the prospect of
international destabilization caused by the consequences of
global warming such as the loss of land area or the loss of
Mr. Chairman, as I have stated in previous hearings on this
issue, we have a chance to start again to create adequate
climate change research and development that we can help our
world in the future. Political interference on this critical
issue is unacceptable. We all live under the same skies. We are
here today to investigate and resolve these allegations, and
politics has no place in science.
Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman, and I yield back the rest
of my time.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Ms. Watson.
Mr. Duncan. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Richard Lindzen, who is a professor of atmospheric science
at MIT, a few months ago wrote in the Wall Street Journal about
what he called the alarmism and feeding frenzy surrounding the
climate change/global warming debate, and he said this. He
said, ``But there is a more sinister side to this feeding
frenzy. Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen
their grant funds disappear, their work derided and themselves
libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse.
Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when
they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their
Professor David Deming, a geophysicist said, ``The media
hysteria on global warming has been generated by journalists
who don't understand the provisional and uncertain nature of
scientific knowledge. Science changes.''
Robert Bradley, president of the Institute for Energy
Research, wrote this in the Washington Times. He said ``The
emotional, politicized debate over global warming has produced
a fire, ready, aim mentality despite great and still growing
scientific uncertainty about the problem.''
He went on to say, he said, ``Still, climate alarmists
demand a multitude of do-somethings to address the problem they
are sure exist and is solvable. They pronounce the debate over
in their favor and call their critics names such as deniers, as
in Holocaust deniers. This has created a bad climate for
scientific research and for policymaking. In fact, the debate
is more than unsettled.''
I appreciate your calling this hearing. This issue has
become very politicized and emotional. It appears that most of
those who support and say most of the alarmists about global
warming are people who are funded directly or indirectly by the
Federal Government. So we need to look into these things and
see what the real truth is in this situation.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you for your comments.
Mr. Lynch. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you to the
ranking member for holding this hearing.
I am going to submit my official remarks in the interest of
time to the record, but I do want to say thank you to the
panelists for coming before this committee and helping us with
With all due respect to my colleague who spoke previously,
this is not a hearing on alarmism or the quality and integrity
of the information that has been delivered to the Congress and
to the White House by the scientific community. This is a
hearing that will investigate allegations that attorneys, not
scientists, attorneys formerly employed by the American
Petroleum Institute, edited scientific documents that were
meant to alert the public and alert the Congress to the effects
of global warming. This is a hearing that will look into
whether or not that data, that information, that scientific
information that we would rely upon was distorted by this White
House. That is what we are investigating here.
We appreciate the courage of the panelists that have
stepped forward to help Congress in making that decision. This
is very troubling, not only in the sense that scientific data
had been distorted and there had been an attempt to misinform
the American people but also the concerted pattern and practice
of this White House to censor these scientists has a chilling
effect not only on these individuals but on a wider scientific
We are here to exercise the right of the American people to
get the truth. That is what we are here for today. It is not to
debate the degree to which the atmosphere is warming or the
extent to which global warming will impact us over the coming
years and decades. This is really a question about governmental
integrity and whether we are partners with our scientific
community to protect the interests not only of the American
people but our partners around the world.
I appreciate that this chairman has had the courage to put
this issue right out in front. It is the first hearing of this
committee, and I think it sends a great message to the American
people and to the scientific community that the work that they
do is greatly appreciated and welcomed by this Congress.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I will yield back the balance of
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Mr. Lynch.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. I think he stepped out.
Mr. Waxman. Oh, he stepped out. Then we will go to Ms.
Mr. Gilchrest, OK.
Mr. Gilchrest. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, just a very brief
comment that is a little off topic but it sort of is relevant
to this issue of whether or not there is enough scientific
evidence to display for the administration or anybody else that
there is human activity causing the climate to change.
I would urge my colleagues to contact National Geographic.
They have a genographic program where they have converged
anthropologists and geneticists to see where your ancestors
came from, and I participated in that, gave my DNA and the
markers in my DNA went from here to Ireland to Spain all the
way to Ethiopia about 50,000 years ago. The way they were able
to do that, and by the way they spent about 5,000 years in Iran
about 35,000 years ago before they migrated further west.
The point is that there are DNA markers in human DNA that
can actually be traced over millenniums back thousands and tens
of thousands of years if we converge those two scientists,
anthropologists and geneticists.
If we do the same thing with the atmosphere, we converge
meteorologists, atmospheric scientists with chemists and a
variety of other people, you can trace the markers in
CO2 or methane or any one of the other atmospheric
gases back not thousands of years but millions of years. When
you look at those markers, those radioactive isotopes, 800,000
years ago to just today, you can tell where the CO2
Does it come from a volcano? Does it come from soybeans?
Does it come from burning forests? They all produce C02. The
markers, the distinctive markers, burning gasoline produces a
marker in the CO2 that is different from the marker
in CO2 coming out of volcanos.
The point is there is an extraordinary amount of science
that an individual, a Member of Congress, for example, pursuing
an objective analysis can make a fairly quick determination by
talking to a variety of interests in the scientific community
to, yes, determine that the natural range of fluctuation has
been interrupted, disrupted in the last hundred years to
produce a huge increase in CO2 from burning fossil
fuel, and the markers are present there.
Is science 100 percent? There is a principle of uncertainty
that has been in the scientific community for quite some time,
and the principle of uncertainty is that science is always
working in the edge of the unknown. So a sense of tolerance to
that result by us, I think, is pretty vital.
I really appreciate the fact that the chairman and the
ranking member are holding this hearing today.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Mr. Gilchrest.
Mr. Higgins. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I have no opening statement. I thank you for calling this
hearing, and I look forward to the testimony of the expert
panel that you have assembled.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you.
Mr. Sali. Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Waxman. Yes.
Mr. Sali. May I be recognized for an opening statement?
Mr. Waxman. The gentleman is recognized.
Mr. Sali. Mr. Chairman and Mr. Davis, it is a pleasure for
me to join this distinguished committee. I look forward to
serving with you as we do what we have been charged with: to
examine fairly and honestly Government programs, contracts and
Today we begin these activities in the new Congress by
reviewing the administration's actions with respect to the
study of global climate change, but as all of us know, the
issue before us is not really climate change itself. It is
whether the Bush administration has manipulated facts,
prevented scientific investigation or otherwise obstructed
honest study of this critical issue.
Mr. Chairman, I must say that the idea the administration
has stifled inquiry and action is a bit hard for me to swallow.
From 2001 through 2006, this administration devoted more than
$25 billion to programs related to climate change, $25 billion,
and where I am from in Idaho, that is a pretty good chunk of
change. In addition, in 2003 and 2004 alone, in part due to the
administration policies, U.S. greenhouse gas intensity dropped
by about 4.5 percent. In the 2005 energy bill, the
administration obtained $5 billion in tax incentives over a 5-
year period for what it calls, ``go clean energy systems and
highly efficient vehicles, mandatory renewable fuel and energy
The Bush administration's Advanced Energy Initiative is
increasing by 22 percent Department of Energy research funding
to help refine clean energy technologies to the point that they
can be used effectively and at a modest price by ordinary
Mr. Chairman, these actions are not the hallmarks of an
administration that is seeking to curtail research or force
certain results. President Bush and his team are committed to
serious, effective and practical research and action. They put
a lot of Federal money where the public commitments have been
made, a lot of money. This administration has been working to
safeguard our resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and at
the same time help American manufacturing and mining and metal
industries remain strong and competitive in the global
To cripple our industrial sector in the name of
environmental quality is not good public policy or good
science. It is mere ideology, zealotry in the name of
environmental extremism. The Bush administration has taken a
much more balanced course, and I applaud it.
Mr. Chairman, I am concerned with the tenor of this
hearing, with the general approach we will be taking in the
next 2 years. I believe in oversight, in asking hard questions
and in demanding appropriate accountability, but today's
hearing seems less about finding answers than making an
argument. I hope that perception is incorrect or if it is
accurate, I hope it is not a foretaste of a partisan contention
that will be cloaked as oversight.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Bill Sali follows:]
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] T4913.021
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] T4913.022
Mr. Waxman. Thank you.
Mr. Braley. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Ranking
Member Davis, for giving us the opportunity to discuss these
important issues today.
With all respect to my distinguished colleague from Idaho,
I think that one of the biggest problems that we have right now
with the Bush administration is captured in this Congress Daily
A.M. headline, Panel Steamed Over Withheld Documents, which
focuses on respect for the rule of law, respect for the
jurisdiction of this committee and the deliberate withholding
of information requested over a 6-month period in a bipartisan
spirit, not just by this committee Chair but by the former
Chair and the ranking member, and that sets a tone that I think
should cause us all concern about the impact that the
administration is having on the conduct of oversight in this
I have a portrait in my office of one of my heroes,
Clarence Darrow, someone who stood up for the integrity of the
scientific inquiry and academic freedom and stood up for
accountability and the rule of fact over fiction. I had the
great privilege of graduating from the Iowa State University of
Science and Technology where the first digital computing system
was invented, and one of the things I know is that people who
work in an academic environment need to have assurances that
their inquiries will be free from political influence. That is
what distinguishes us from other countries around the world and
gives us the opportunity to make great advances as we have seen
over the entire history of this country.
One of the things I also know is that the Federal court
system has set up a gatekeeping system to make sure that
testimony presented in a court of law has the credibility of
scientific inquiry behind it. Things like making sure that
those scientific theories have been tested through peer review
journals is an indication of what stands for academic freedom,
stands for preservation of the integrity of the scientific
process and the free marketplace of ideas. We need to get back
to that system. We need to diminish the role of politics so
that our scientists have the ability to give us the great
discoveries we have come to depend upon them in making this
country the place that it is.
I look forward to working with the committee, and I also
want to comment on how much appreciation I have for our
witnesses today. I know what it is like to represent clients
who have sat in your shoes. It doesn't take a lot of courage to
sit back here and make comments and ask questions. It takes a
tremendous amount of courage to sit where you are, and we
appreciate your willingness to come and share your thoughts
I yield back the remainder of my time.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Mr. Braley.
Mr. Issa. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I too want to echo earlier remarks that this has been a
committee that on a bipartisan basis has been frustrated by an
inability, not just in this area but in a number of areas, to
get the kind of candid response and respect for the oversight
responsibility of the Congress. I certainly hope today that
this hearing will deal with the facts as to whether or not
oversight is going to be properly done and respected in the
future, and I say so for a couple of reasons.
First of all, I think that the people out in the hinterland
watching this, even the people in the gallery here today,
understand that global warming is not a secret hidden from the
American people by the Government. Certainly, Mr. Sali said it
very well. There have been huge amounts of money, huge amounts
of awareness as to global warming. There is a debate going on
as to what part the human being plays in it and how much of it
is simply us coming out of a mini ice age, and I believe good
science should be used, employed, paid for and deliver us
answers so that we can make intelligent decisions.
Additionally, this committee in the last Congress spent a
lot of time through our oversight hearings, realizing that
CO2 was only going to be beat by non-CO2
products which includes nuclear, a subject that often is by the
same people who insist on ending global warming is also
rejected. I am hoping we can do that and more.
I do recognize that this is a highly charged political
subject, but it is my sincere hope that this committee will
continue working on a bipartisan basis to recognize that as
Presidents come and go, as Congresses change from one side to
the other side having the chairman's gavel, that this committee
has an ongoing responsibility, we take it seriously and we
expect to get answers to our questions from whomever occupies
the Oval Office or more specifically by the bureaucrats who
stay there throughout one administration after another and tend
to resist. That is what we are here, I hope, today to do is to
recognize that it is time for us to assert our oversight role
and insist on it.
With that, I yield back and thank the chairman.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Mr. Issa.
Ms. Norton. Mr. Chairman, I thank you for this hearing, but
I am sure that millions of Americans thank you for this
hearing. I appreciate that you have made this your first
hearing. So far as I know, it is the first hearing on global
warming to be held in the House this session, and I know you
have not simply gone down a list and picked this one out.
This issue, the fate of the planet itself, simply has no
rival in importance. Because the issue has somehow in our
country become controversial--I am not sure that is true in
most advanced countries--such a hearing might be perceived as
blame-laying, but the reason for this hearing for Congress is
surely to make sure that actions are taken and that information
is not ever again suppressed. We need to be full speed ahead on
this one. The elements that comprise global warming have a huge
head start on this hearing.
Mr. Chairman, the independence of church and state is
gospel in our country. Well, the independence of science from
politics ought to be the same in Government. We have the best
science in the world. Its word has always been its bond. When
we consider the dangers to public health and to the planet
itself, the politicization of science is itself a catastrophe
that simply must be avoided.
Apparently, there had been one peer study, over against the
hundreds, that said there wasn't global warming, but this
administration chose to side with those who said no. There were
no nuances apparent in its view.
At the moment, the administration is defending in the
Supreme Court of the United States, the position that
CO2 is not covered by the Clean Air Act. Without
getting into the technicalities, that takes a huge stretch if
you know anything about the act. Now the courts have to decide
the issue, and if I know the courts, they will try to find some
procedural way to avoid a scientific issue that shouldn't be
there and shouldn't be in politics at all.
We do not have the luxury, Mr. Chairman, of making up for
lost time on this one. We have done that historically:
disregard the losses; there will be more where that came from.
Already, my great fear is that it is too late when you see
glaciers melting. I know of no science that is likely to
refreeze the glaciers or to reproduce their majesty.
Mr. Chairman, I live and hope and only hope it is not
already too late and I thank you again for this hearing.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you very much, Ms. Norton.
Ms. McCollum. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your leadership
on this important issue.
I would also like to express my appreciation to the
witnesses with us here today for their efforts in calling
attention to the disturbing pattern of interference and abuse
of science surrounding global climate change. I applaud each of
you for having the courage to have your voice heard.
In my home State of Minnesota, we are uniquely affected by
changing climate patterns because of our geography. We are at
the intersection of three major ecosystems. Minnesota and
Minnesotans are experiencing the effects of climate change, and
my constituents are demanding action. Global climate change is
one of the greatest challenges facing this Nation. We know that
meaningful solutions will demand unprecedented cooperation,
innovation, commitment and urgency.
Over the past 6 years, enormous scientific consensus
supporting the reality of global climate change did not fit the
administration's agenda. As we have seen in other situations
when reality doesn't fit the script, the White House rewrites
reality to fit the script. Tragically, the Bush administration
has led an effort to suppress and distort the science of global
warming while providing protection and ensuring massive profits
for the petroleum industry.
Is this why the Bush administration feels so threatened by
the issue of climate change that it engages in a calculated
campaign to manipulate scientific documents and intimidate
science? What justification does the administration give us for
Congress has the responsibility and the duty to find the
answers as to why the administration officials acted as they
did, but the impacts of the administration's interference with
the science of global climate change are already known. It is
undermined the integrity of numerous Federal agencies. It has
recklessly harmed the careers of many respected professionals.
It has delayed popular consensus on the need to take action
against global warming. I fear America will look back on the
bush administration as the lost years: lost talent, lost time,
While there is a need for science in the realm of political
debate, we must fiercely guard against the intrusion of
politics into scientific research and discovery, and that is
why today's hearing is an essential first step. Through
transparency, we will find accountability. Through
accountability, we will create a new and higher standard, one
in which science is required and the science that is given to
the American people is correct and accurate.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you very much, Ms. McCollum.
Mr. Cooper. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First, for the record, I would like to take note of a
recent book called the Republican War on Science by Chris
Mooney. It is excellent reading. I can't help but note it has a
blurb on the back from our distinguished chairman recommending
that people read it.
Second, let me mention a dinner party I attended about 2
months ago here in Washington. The honoree was John Negroponte
who was then the director of National Intelligence. He was
there to receive an environmental award. It was very
interesting because in anticipation of his remarks, word
slipped through the crowd that he was not allowed to utter the
words, global warming, at least not in the same sentence.
Apparently, he was allowed to say the word, global, in a
separate sentence and warming in a separate sentence, but not
together. It sort of became a little parlor game during his
remarks to see how closely he would fit the words, global and
warming and not incur the wrath of the White House.
I thought this was a sad statement of the current condition
of our scientific community when a top and very eminent
statesman like John Negroponte would be so hamstrung by the
administration that he would not be allowed to utter the two
words in conjunction. I thought that was an indignity to Mr.
Negroponte and a sad comment on the level of the Bush
administration to so hamstring its talented and capable
appointees. Sadly, this is an effort on the part of the
administration that has been going on for a long time.
Another must read book is by Christine Todd Whitman, the
former EPA Administrator, entitled It's My Party Too. In this
book, she chronicles how President Bush promised in the
campaign to do something about carbon emissions, then reversed
his promise at the urging of four Republican Senators who were
named in the book: Chuck Hagel, Jesse Helms, Larry Craig and
Pat Roberts. This reversal took place while Christine Todd
Whitman was negotiating on behalf of the United States in
Trieste in Europe. So before she flew back, her legs were
completely cut out from underneath her, embarrassing America
and undercutting science in our community.
This is not a Democratic diatribe. This is a Bush cabinet
official's memoirs. What a sad condition our country has fallen
I commend the scientists who will testify today. I am sorry
I will not be able to be here for your entire testimony, but I
look forward to reading it in detail.
I thank the Chair.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Mr. Cooper.
Mr. Hodes. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling this
In New Hampshire, we talk a lot about the weather, and
folks where I come from notice that the weather is changing. We
don't have a lot of snow this year. But we are not here to talk
about the weather, and we are not here to talk about money
spent or unspent. We are here to investigate rank political
We live in an information age. When we as a Nation and as
global citizens face rapidly changing climatic conditions, the
integrity of scientific research is critical to wise
Before coming to Congress, I read numerous articles
documenting concerns about the interference by the Bush
administration with the conclusions of Government scientists.
Allowing politics to trump science is dangerous business.
Disinformation was once thought of as a fictional Orwellian
construct. If it has happened here, we need to bring it out in
the open and help restore good scientific practices without
fear of retaliation, reprisal and control by political
The American people need good data and good science, not
disinformation. If we are to effectively address global warming
and make the right policy decisions, we need science unimpeded
by political concerns.
I thank the panelists for appearing. It takes courage to
come and tell the truth, but the American people want it, they
need it and, as Members of Congress, we expect it. So, thank
you very much.
I yield back. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you for your statement.
Mr. Murphy. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, on my walk to the Capitol this morning, I
passed a line of cherry trees that up until a few weeks ago had
been blooming. Frankly, the sight of a cherry tree in the
middle of winter, blooming, concerns me and a lot of us very
deeply. I know why the tree was blooming. The high temperature
on December 1st was 75 degrees. The high on January 6th was 70
degrees and 67 on the 15th. Whether this is an anomaly of the
season or a sign of a trend, I don't know, but today it feels
like winter and I am pretty relieved.
There is unequivocal scientific evidence that the Earth is
warming due to human activities, specifically to the release of
carbon dioxide emissions in the air. One would think that given
these facts, the President would appoint someone amongst the
talented pool of scientists in this country to look into the
question. But proving once again that this President never
misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
Who does he appoint? A lawyer with no scientific training,
a former oil industry lobbyist whose primary responsibility on
certain days seemed to be disproving the link between
greenhouse gases and the companies he was representing.
If you look at the EPA's Web site on climate change, you
will read ``that a causal link between the buildup of
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the observed climate
change during the 20th Century cannot be unequivocally
established.'' Given the data that this committee, Mr.
Chairman, has uncovered into the Bush administration's
political interference in the scientific community, we should
not be surprised.
I thank the panel for having the courage to be here with us
today. I look forward to your testimony, and I yield back the
balance of my time.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you very much.
Mr. Sarbanes. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you
for holding this hearing today on the science of global climate
change. This is the first substantive hearing I have had the
opportunity to participate in as a newly elected Member of this
body, and I believe the subject matter could not be more
In my own State of Maryland and especially within the Third
Congressional District, we have a strong tradition of
environmental advocacy rooted in a passion for the Chesapeake
Bay, but the Chesapeake Bay, which is our Nation's largest
estuary, does not escape the consequences of global warming. In
fact, as a result of global warming, sea levels in the
Chesapeake Bay area have risen at alarming levels over the last
100 years. If continued unchecked, this phenomenon will cause
entire bay islands to be submerged and destroy diverse plant
and wildlife habitat across the bay watershed. Such a calamity
would have a profound environmental and ecological impact but
would also devastate Maryland's tourism and seafood industries.
The scope of the challenge of global warming is
international, but its impact on people in communities can be
seen in how it has affected areas like the Chesapeake Bay
region. Likewise, change must begin by examining our own
personal behaviors and our own National energy policy which
overwhelmingly depends on fossil fuels. Promoting change will
be difficult, however, if the administration continues its
systematic effort to understate the threat of global warming.
Mr. Chairman, effective and responsive governance at all
levels depends on receiving accurate and timely information.
All too often, this administration has disregarded or in some
cases suppressed information that does not support its
particular ideological or political agenda. We have seen this
pattern in the run-up to the Iraq War, in the crafting of the
Medicare prescription drug legislation and, as is being
demonstrated today, in the approach to global climate change.
Today's hearing marks the beginning of a march back to
fact-based decisionmaking at the highest levels of our
Mr. Chairman, thank you for your efforts to illuminate the
true science of global climate change. I look forward to
working with my colleagues to address this problem in a
meaningful way. Today's hearing is not just about preserving
our natural climate. It is about preserving the climate for
open and honest scientific research and discussion.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Mr. Sarbanes.
Mr. Welch. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
For decades, the issues of climate change has focused on
debate about science, and today the overwhelming scientific
research shows that global warming is real, it is urgent and it
requires immediate action. That consensus has not always been
present with only a shrinking minority remaining as skeptics,
but more often than not that skepticism has been driven by
politics or economic motivations, not the facts. We have
learned that outspoken scientists dedicated to following the
facts where they lead have had their sound conclusions altered
by those motivated by politics, not the truth, and scientists
at the seven agencies that study climate change have reported
such widespread abuses.
Politically motivated suppression of science is not only
irresponsible but highlights a careless and reckless disregard
for the public that all of us are here to serve. We have an
opportunity to investigate that because it is critically
important to our future. The true test of leadership for
scientists, for people in politics is an ability to face
directly the realities that are often times difficult. To help
us do that, we need honest scientific conclusions.
I applaud the gentlemen who are here today to testify and
provide us with their best scientific evidence.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield the balance of my time.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you very much, Mr. Welch.
Mr. Yarmuth. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am anxious to hear the witnesses, so I would like to
submit my prepared remarks for the record.
But I would just like to add that one thing I think we all
can agree on is that in the area of global climate change, the
Government, the Federal Government, has a critical role to
play. Therefore, when it speaks, it has to speak with complete
authority and credibility, and that can only be achieved if it
is not unduly influenced by personal political agendas or by
the agenda of special interests. I think these hearings can
contribute to a large extent to creating that degree of
credibility when the Government does speak on climate change,
and I commend the chairman for organizing these hearings.
I yield back.
[The prepared statement of Hon. John A. Yarmuth follows:]
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] T4913.023
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] T4913.024
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Mr. Yarmuth.
Mr. Kucinich. I thank the Chair for holding this hearing.
One has to ask: do you have to be a scientist to know that
there is something quite unusual going on with our global
climate? Do you have to be a Member of Congress to understand
All over the world, people have seen the effects of global
climate change: the intensity of storms, the frequency of
droughts, the destruction of crops, rising sea levels, changes
in migration patterns. I don't need a scientist to tell me this
is happening because I see it myself.
The problem comes when you get scientists who tell you
something that is different from what you are seeing with your
own eyes. Why do we even get trapped into that type of
Remember the long parade of witnesses who used to come in
front of congressional committees, generations ago and put TV
commercials on the air that would tell people smoking was good
for them. It was glamorous, sexy. That was backed by science.
Today we have a planet that is smoking, and we are told
that, don't worry, be happy. Yet we have seen scientific
evidence presented and then subverted by this administration.
We paid for the scientific studies, and then when the studies
come forward, they are dismissed. We are not even getting what
we are paying for.
We are all citizens of the same planet, at least we would
hope we are. We have a common destiny. We should share common
concerns about the stability of the global climate and act to
protect our planet. We need to challenge the type of thinking
which separates us from our natural environment.
Almost 30 years ago, a philosopher by the name of Morris
Berman wrote a book called the Reenchantment of the World, who
talked about the fundamental problem which comes from when
human beings separate themselves from the very environment in
which they breath in, which they drink. That type of thinking,
that us versus them type of thinking, that dichotomist type
thinking not only separates us from each other, but it is a
precursor of war itself.
This hearing becomes important when we understand our
common aspirations to aspire to a stable global climate, about
our common concerns which should be expressed, about great
fluctuations in temperatures and the regular weather patterns.
These changes in weather patterns, the more intense storms
including hurricanes, Hurricane Katrina, ought to cause us to
seek out scientists who are free to give us their best advice.
There is substantial scientific certainty about climate
change. Scientists are confident that global warming is
happening. The vast majority of experts on the issue agree that
human activities are to blame. I mean this is a call for
leadership which unites the American people in taking a new
direction for not just energy conservation but the development
of alternative energies, green energies. But what happens is
because scientific information is brought forward which
disputes global climate change, the kind of massive unity that
we need to take a new direction is slowed.
I thank the Chair for holding this hearing and for his
consistent leadership over the years to reclaim human dignity.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you very much for your testimony.
Unfortunately, one of the glitches of this hearing today is
that the green light seems to be on forever even if the time is
expired. We will try to work that out, but at least we stopped
the static for everyone.
Mr. Kucinich. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Everywhere I go in
life, there is a green light. I appreciate that. [Laughter.]
Mr. Waxman. To close out the opening statements, I want to
call on the gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Van Hollen.
Mr. Van Hollen. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for
your leadership in this very important issue.
I think we can all agree that everybody is entitled to
their own opinions, but not everybody is entitled to their own
facts. We as a Nation invest billions of dollars every year in
scientific research, whether it is at NIH, whether it is at
EPA, whether it is at NOAA, and that is an investment made by
the taxpayers and that investment is only as good as the
reliability of the science that comes from that investment.
That is why it is essential that the science that we do as
a Federal Government is done free from political interference
because if facts become twisted by the politics, then that is
money wasted, taxpayer money wasted. I am afraid that over the
past many years we have seen that kind of political
interference. We all know of political science as one realm of
inquiry. Under this administration, unfortunately, much more of
science has become political science, and it is not just in the
area of global climate change although that has been exhibit A.
Here on Capitol Hill, the tone with respect to that debate
was set by people like one of our colleagues on the Senate side
who used to chair the Senate Environment and Public Works
Committee, Senator Inhofe, who said, ``Global warming is the
greatest hoax ever perpetuated on the American people.''
This Congress in the past and the administration helped set
the tone at the top that was placed over our scientists, our
public servants who do this work day by day, trying to get at
the right answers. The result has been a twisting of the
science, not just in the area of global climate change.
The Government Reform Committee looked at this question
when it came to mercury control and regulations. In fact, the
Inspector General, the independent Inspector General at the EPA
found just more than a year ago that there had been
interference through the political process on the science of
mercury poisoning, the development of regulations in that area.
This has been a problem endemic from the top in this
I represent a lot of Federal employees. I happen to
represent a district that includes NIH, that includes NOAA,
that includes the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, many others.
Those are good people who are just trying to do their work and
get at the facts and get the science for the benefit of the
American people. I can tell you when I am able to talk to them
one on one, when the political minders are not around, they
tell me about the chilling effect from the top on the work that
is done and on the influence that is brought to bear from the
top on their work. I think it is high time that we had a thaw
in that chilling influence, and I think this hearing and this
new day on Capitol Hill is part of setting that new tone.
Science should be fact-driven. We should not be driven by
the political vagaries of any administration, whether it be
Republican or Democrat. I think that is the message that we
want to send to the good people in our Government who are
working every day on behalf of the American people to get the
Mr. Chairman, let me just close on this. Yesterday evening,
we had a hearing in Montgomery County, a bipartisan hearing, on
legislation that has been proposed in the Congress on mental
health and insurance coverage for mental health. Congressman
Patrick Kennedy and Congressman Jim Ramstad, Democrat and
Republican, had been going around the country on these issues.
We invited a member, a representative from the National
Institutes of Mental Health to testify, and that individual
wanted to testify and 2 weeks ago was preparing testimony. We
asked them only for their testimony on the science, mental
health issues, the science of the brain. We weren't asking them
to take a position on the legislation. We wanted to hear about
the science. They were prepared to come.
Yesterday just before we had the hearing, they were
notified by their political minders at NIH that they could not
come to a hearing attended by Members of Congress, Republicans
and Democrats alike.
It seems to me if the people in this country are making the
kind of investment they are at NIH, that we should be able to
have the benefit of their testimony, whether that hearing is
held here in the U.S. Congress by members of the committee or
in our districts, especially when the representative from NIH
is an expert in the field and leader in the field and was eager
to testify. It is just another example, it seems to me, of the
politics getting in the way of allowing our public servants to
inform the public about the best results from their scientific
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing. I thank
the witnesses for being here.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Mr. Van Hollen.
I thank all the Members for their opening statements.
We are now going to hear from the witnesses who have been
described as courageous, but I also want to describe them as
patient. Let me introduce the witnesses.
We have Dr. Francesca Grifo, senior scientist and director
of the Union of Concerned Scientists, Scientific Integrity
Program. She has over 20 years of experience directing science-
based projects and programs. She holds a Ph.D. in botany from
Rick Piltz is the director of Climate Science Watch, a
program that aims to hold public officials accountable for
using climate research with integrity and effectiveness in
addressing the challenge of global climate change. From April
1995 until March 2005, Mr. Piltz worked at the U.S. Climate
Change Science Program where he coordinated scientific research
on climate change.
Dr. Drew Shindell is an atmospheric physicist who studies
climate change in atmospheric physics. He has worked at NASA's
Goddard Institute for Space Studies for the last 12 years. In
2004, Scientific American Magazine named Dr. Shindell one of
the top 50 scientists in the country.
Dr. Roger Pielke is a political scientist who has been on
the faculty of the University of Colorado since 2001. He is a
professor in the Environmental Studies Program and a fellow of
the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental
It is our practice in this committee to swear in, so if you
would please rise, I would like to administer the oath.
Mr. Waxman. The record will note that each witness answered
in the affirmative.
I would like to ask each of the witnesses to give a brief
summary of their testimony, to keep this summary under 5
minutes duration. Unfortunately, that light may not tell you
when the 5-minutes is up, but I will let you know when the 5-
minutes is up and then we would appreciate a concluding
statement. Your written testimony that has been submitted in
advance will be made part of the record in full.
We thank you for being here.
Dr. Grifo, why don't we start with you.
STATEMENTS OF FRANCESCA GRIFO, SENIOR SCIENTIST AND DIRECTOR OF
THE SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY PROGRAM, UNION OF CONCERNED
SCIENTISTS; RICK PILTZ, FORMER SENIOR ASSOCIATE, U.S. CLIMATE
CHANGE SCIENCE PROGRAM; DREW SHINDELL, GODDARD INSTITUTE FOR
SPACE STUDIES, NATIONAL AERODYNAMICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION;
ROGER PIELKE, JR., PROFESSOR, ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES PROGRAM,
UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AND FELLOW, COOPERATIVE INSTITUTE FOR
RESEARCH IN THE ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES
STATEMENT OF FRANCESCA GRIFO
Ms. Grifo. Good morning, and thank you, Mr. Chairman and
members of the committee for the opportunity to be here and
address you. I come representing the Union of Concerned
Scientists and scientists across the country.
Political interference is harming Federal science and
threatening the health and safety of Americans. Over 1,800
Federal scientists from multiple agencies have reported
concerns. Six hundred and ninety-nine scientists, that is 39
percent of our respondents across nine agencies have reported
that they fear retaliation for openly expressing their concerns
about mission-driven work of their agencies.
Four hundred and thirty-two scientists from five agencies
reported that they were not able to publish work in peer review
journals if it did not adhere to agency policies. That was 25
percent of our respondents.
From the report we are releasing today, 150 Federal climate
scientists report personally experiencing at least one incident
of political interference in the past 5 years for a total of at
least 435 incidents.
All branches of Government must have access to independent
scientific advice. The thousands of scientists in the employ of
the Federal Government represent a tremendous resource. We need
strong action to restore integrity to Federal science in order
to be prepared to face the complex challenges ahead of us.
The Union of Concerned Scientists has documented scores of
examples of such abuses in our online A to Z Guide to Political
Interference in Science. This interference can take many forms
from censorship and suppression of Federal science to
dissemination of inaccurate scientific results and science-
based information to the manipulation of scientific advice.
Over 11,000 scientists including 52 Nobel laureates and
numerous other luminaries and science advisors to both
Republican and Democratic Presidents dating back to the
Eisenhower administration have signed our statement calling for
a restoration of scientific integrity.
Our investigations demonstrate that the problem goes deeper
than just the high profile incidents and includes new examples
from NOAA and NASA as well as the voices of hundreds of climate
scientists from seven Federal agencies. Our investigations
found high quality science struggling to get out. Nearly half
of all respondents perceived or personally experienced pressure
to eliminate the words, climate change, global warming or other
similar terms from a variety of communications. Forty-three
percent personally experienced or perceived changes or edits
during the review of documents that changed the meaning of
Barriers to communication hinder our National ability to
prepare and respond to protect future generations from the
consequences of global warming. Our investigation uncovered
numerous examples of public affairs officers at Federal
agencies taking an active role in regulating communications
between agency scientists and the media, in effect, serving as
gatekeepers for scientific information. We found agency climate
scientists who had their press inquiries routed to other
scientists whose views more closely matched administration
policy and who routinely encountered difficulty in obtaining
approval for official press releases. Two-thirds of respondents
said that today's environment for Federal Government climate
research is worse compared with 5 years ago and 10 years ago.
Both scientists and journalists report that restrictive media
policies and practices have hampered the communication between
Government scientists and the news media. This limits the
extent to which new scientific findings can enter the public
and policy debate.
The report includes a model media policy which encompasses
the following: whistleblower protections, Congress must act to
protect scientists who speak out when they see interference or
suppression of science and all agency policies must
affirmatively educate their employees of their rights under
Scientific freedoms, Federal scientists have a
constitutional right to speak about any subject, so long as the
scientists make clear that they do so in their private
capacity. Scientists must also have a right of last review on
agency communications related to their research.
Scientific openness, scientists should not be subject to
restrictions on media contacts beyond a policy of informing
public affairs officials in advance of an interview and
summarizing the interaction for them afterwards. Federal
agencies should support the free exchange of scientific
information in all venues.
I just want to close with a quote from a NASA scientist
from our survey. ``Civil survey scientists and engineers can
and should be an unbiased reservoir of insights into different
questions. If we can't be trusted to give insights on global
change and funded to do so, who in the world will do it?''
[The prepared statement of Ms. Grifo follows:]
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Mr. Waxman. Thank you very much for your testimony.
Before calling on Mr. Piltz, I understand that in order to
get the timer to register on the front table, there needs to be
an adjustment and we are going to have one of our people make
that adjustment. I understand there may be a loud pop, so
please don't get excited.
Mr. Issa. Mr. Chairman, it took us most of those 12 years
to get that working right, so good luck.
Mr. Waxman. Well, we are going to do it in 1 minute, we
If not, we expect to have 12 years to work on it, at least.
Mr. Piltz, we will now hear from you. We welcome you here.
Let me, just for housekeeping purposes, ask unanimous
consent that all of the statements submitted by our witnesses
will be made part of the record. Without objection, that will
be the order.
STATEMENT OF RICK PILTZ
Mr. Piltz. Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Davis, members of
the committee, I greatly appreciate the opportunity to present
testimony at this hearing, and there is considerable more
detail in my written testimony.
I endorse all of the conclusions and recommendations in the
Joint Union of Concerns Scientists Government Accountability
Project Report and to complement that, my testimony will focus
on the administration's treatment of the National Assessment of
Climate Change Impacts and the problem of the White House
Council on Environmental Quality.
From April 1995 until March 2005, I worked in the
Coordination Office of what is now called the U.S. Climate
Change Science Program, the Federal multi-agency Federal
program that supports the scientific research on climate and
associated global environmental change. I had various
responsibilities and worked on many projects during those 10
years. I worked directly with the agency leadership and with
the senior professional staff in the Coordination Office.
One key ongoing project for which I was responsible
involved coordinating the development of and editing nine
editions of the annual report to Congress, Our Changing Planet,
which represents the governmentwide research program. In doing
that, I would compile and edit into accessible language the
contributions of about 90 scientists and science program
managers in the Federal agencies and labs. Those reports were
carefully reviewed and vetted and signed off on by the agency
experts, and then they would go to the Executive Office of the
President for final editing and the review and clearance before
During the 2001-2005 timeframe, I came increasingly to the
conclusion that the administration was acting to impede
forthright communication of the state of climate science and
its implications for society and that the politicization of
climate science communication by the current administration was
undermining the credibility and integrity of the Climate Change
Science Program in its relationship to the research community,
to the program managers, to policymakers and to the public. So
in March 2005, I left the program office, resigning my position
I saw that the problem was manifested especially at the
points at which scientifically based information regarding
climate change was communicated to a wider audience, to
Congress, to the public. It wasn't so much a matter of
interfering with what scientists were publishing in geophysical
research letters or other technical journals. It was when the
science would come forward to be communicated to a wider
audience, that the political gatekeepers would step in.
Now, I am not a climate scientist by academic training, and
I don't debate technical issues. I will leave that for Dr.
Shindell and other eminent climate scientists, but I can tell
you what happens when the climate science comes forward into
this arena of wider communication and the collision between
science and politics.
Really among the issues that I regard as politically
significant, particularly significant in this politicization,
was the administration's treatment of the National Assessment
of Climate Change Impacts which was carried in the 1997-2000
timeframe pursuant to the Global Change Research Act of 1990.
This was a report that was developed by a panel of climate and
ecosystem scientists and other experts that is to this day the
most systematic and comprehensive effort to assess the
potential implications of global warming and climate change for
the United States. The report identified a range of likely
adverse societal and environmental impacts.
This report has essentially been made to vanish by the Bush
administration, all reference to it by Federal agencies has
been prohibited. All use of it in reports to Congress and other
climate change communications has been suppressed. The
scientist stakeholder networks that developed this report have
been abandoned and no follow-on work of a comparable sort has
I discuss this in considerably greater detail in my written
testimony, but starting in 2002, the White House Council on
Environmental Quality placed Phillip Cooney as Chief of Staff
at the table as part of the governance of the U.S. Climate
Change Science Program. Now CEQ is a policy shop, not a science
office. It is my understanding that Mr. Cooney was the
proximate agent of the White House's directive to the Federal
agencies to suppress the National Climate Assessment. Of
course, he was not acting independently. He was an operative in
a chain of command leading up to CEQ chairman on to the
President, but there are many aspects of the way CEQ intervened
to manipulate communication on climate change and this was one
In conclusion, in addition to the UCS GAP recommendations,
I would recommend it is very important to revitalize this
national assessment process. Every member, I think, has a vital
interest in this regional level, sectoral level analysis of
putting the top experts together with direct communication with
policymakers and other stakeholders to diagnose the problems
and develop solutions. What you need, I think, is this direct
unimpeded communication between the experts and policymakers
and get the gatekeepers out of the way.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Piltz follows:]
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Mr. Waxman. Thank you very much, Mr. Piltz.
STATEMENT OF DREW SHINDELL
Mr. Shindell. Good morning, and I thank the committee.
Mr. Waxman. There is a button at the base of the mic. Is
Mr. Shindell. Thank you. Good morning. I would like to
thank the committee for the opportunity to testify this morning
about climate change science and my personal experiences with
communication of climate science.
As Mr. Chairman noted, I have been a researcher at NASA's
Goddard Institute for Space Studies for some time, and I am a
lecturer at Columbia University as well, but today I am
speaking here as an individual.
Scientists provide information to policymakers and the
public on issues affecting society. Climate change is clearly
such an issue and one for which it is especially critical that
decisions be made using the best available scientific
information because the potential costs to society of action or
of inaction are large.
The Earth as a whole is unquestionably warming, and
virtually all climate scientists believe that the evidence
regarding a human role in this warming is clear and compelling.
Multiple lines of evidence based on measurements, theory and
modeling support these conclusions. The scientific evidence
indicates that the Earth is now warmer than at any time during
the last thousand years. While continued warming is inevitable,
the seriousness of the consequences of climate change will
depend upon societal action to limit the emissions of
greenhouse gases and pollutants that are the dominant cause of
global warming. These consequences include droughts and flood,
increased severity of summer heat waves and rises in sea level
that could devastate low-lying coastal areas.
Although the scientific basis for the conclusion that human
activities are altering Earth's climate is extremely strong,
there are questions that are still raised over whether current
scientific understanding justifies societal action. One of
these arguments has concerned Antarctic temperature trends.
While most of the planet has warmed rapidly during the past
several decades, much of the Antarctic Continent has, by
contrast, cooled. Lack of an adequate explanation for this has
been cited as evidence that scientific understanding of climate
change is simply too incomplete to warrant taking action to
mitigate global warming.
In the fall of 2004, a team I led at NASA published a paper
providing an explanation of how ozone depletion over Antarctica
and increasing greenhouse gases could together account for this
observed cooling of Antarctica. The study was the first to look
at how these two factors work together to influence Antarctic
temperatures. It not only helped to explain the observed
cooling but also predicted a warmer future for Antarctica based
on projections of continued increases in greenhouse gases. This
has clear implications, both for the debate on global warming
and for potential sea level rise as Antarctica contains an
enormous reservoir of water in its ice sheets.
The NASA press corps and I wrote a press release on these
findings to convey them to the broader public. While previous
to this time, press releases had been issued rapidly and with
revisions from headquarters that basically were made to improve
clarity and style, this release was repeatedly delayed, altered
and eventually watered down. When we at GISS inquired of those
higher up the NASA chain what was going on, we were told in the
fall of 2004 by the press corps that releases were being
delayed because two political appointees and the White House
were now reviewing all climate-related press releases.
Scientists do not simply explore what we are most curious
about. We know that our research is funded by the public, and
we go to great lengths to provide policy-relevant information
to support decisionmaking. While it was frustrating for me to
see my work suppressed, even more importantly, it is a
disservice to the public to distort or suppress information
But that experience is only one example of a series of
actions that attempted to suppress communication of climate
science to the public. Also during the fall of 2004, NASA
headquarters insisted that a NASA press officer be present to
monitor all interviews, either in person or in the phone, a
measure most of us felt was unbefitting of a Democratic
society. As with the interference with press releases, the
restrictions were not imposed on other parts of NASA such as
space science or even other areas of Earth science outside of
NASA's new written policy of openness regarding press
conferences and releases has been a welcome first step. This
clearly defined policy is rather unique among Federal
scientific agencies and should be emulated at others. As this
policy seems to have come about in large part in response to
scrutiny of political interference in communication, I hope
that the interest evidenced by this morning's hearing will lead
to continued improvements in policies to protect the integrity
of Government science and its communication to the public.
Even with the best possible information, policymakers must
make subjective decisions in the face of uncertainty, but these
types of decisions go on around us all the time, for example,
when a doctor decides on treatment based on the best medical
evidence, despite the fact that medical science doesn't know
everything there is to know about human physiology. The public
must trust the evaluation of the evidence by policymakers in
the same way that patients must trust their doctors.
Suppression of scientific evidence has undermined the trust
between the public and policymakers and between scientists and
policymakers. Cases where scientific uncertainties were
exaggerated by political appointees have been equally
troubling. Restoring the necessary trust will require the
highest standards of scientific integrity and transparency in
policies regarding scientists' interaction with the public and
in decisionmaking on the urgent issue of climate change.
I thank the committee for holding this hearing.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Shindell follows:]
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Mr. Waxman. Thank you very much, Dr. Shindell.
STATEMENT OF ROGER PIELKE, JR.
Mr. Pielke. I thank the chairman, the ranking member and
the committee for the opportunity to offer testimony this
My main point today is that politics and science cannot, in
practice, be separated. Consequently, policies for the
production, promotion and use of information in decisionmaking
should be based on the realities of science and politics, not
on the mistaken impression that they somehow can be kept
separate. Efforts to separate them will in most cases only
contribute to the pathological politicization of science.
Now imagine the following situation: the President has in
his administration a range of scientific experts on the most
important policy issue of the day. However, the President is
denied access to that advice by the manipulative actions of one
of his primary advisors who we will call the Admiral. It turns
out that the Admiral has the President's ear on matters of
science, but he himself in fact has no formal scientific
training. He justifies his actions on the belief that the
United States is engaged in a fundamental religious, political
and economic conflict between good and evil.
When two leading Government scientists seek to provide
advice to the President that differs from that being offered by
the Admiral, the Admiral asks the FBI to open investigations of
these scientists. One of the scientists subsequently faces a
hearing to consider his lack of loyalty to the United States,
and he never again works as a Government scientist.
The other scientist warns that this case indicates to
scientists that ``Scientific integrity and frankness in
advising Government on policy matters of a technical nature can
lead to later reprisals against those whose earlier opinions
have become unpopular.''
One of the Nation's leading scientists writes that the
relationship between Government and scientists has been gravely
damaged because the Government has given the impression that it
would ``exclude anyone who does not conform to the judgment of
those who in one way or another have acquired authority.''
The year, 1954; the President, Dwight Eisenhower; the
Admiral, Lewis Strauss; the scientists, Robert Oppenheimer,
Hans Bethe and Vannevar Bush.
This vignette drawn from Benjamin Green's excellent new
book on Eisenhower's science policy along with the other
examples recounted in my written testimony that discuss issues
of science and politics from Richard Nixon through Bill Clinton
show that science and politics have always been of concern for
policymakers, and the subject of today's hearing indicates that
today is no different.
There are, however, reasons why today's conflicts are
receiving more attention from scholars, political advocates and
politicians. I will just quickly go through these. There are an
increasing number of important issues that are related to
science and technology. Policymakers and advocacy groups alike
increasingly rely on experts to justify their favorite course
of action. Congress, at least for the past 6 years and perhaps
longer, has been derelict in its oversight duties, particularly
related to issues related to science and technology.
Many scientists are increasingly engaging in political
advocacy. Some issues of science have become increasingly
partisan as some politicians sense that there is political gain
to be found on issues like stem cells, teaching of evolution
and climate change. Last, the Bush administration has indeed
engaged in hyper-controlling strategies for the management of
Now, I will just give a few very short vignettes to
illustrate how fundamentally science and politics are inter-
related. The language of science in public discussion lends
itself to politicization. The New York Times reported last year
that NASA scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory had
complained because they had been instructed to use the phrase,
climate change, rather than the phrase, global warming. A
Republican strategy memo did indeed recommend the use of the
phrase, climate change, over global warming, and environmental
groups have long had the opposite preference. Another Federal
scientist in NOAA described how he was instructed by superiors
not to use the words Kyoto or climate change.
To cite another example, several years ago, the Union of
Concerned Scientists, as part of its advocacy campaign on
reducing greenhouse gas emissions, recommended use of the word,
harbinger, to describe current climate events that may become
more frequent with future global warming. Subsequently,
scientists at NOAA, the National Center for Atmospheric
Research, and the Fish and Wildlife Services Polar Bear Project
began to use the phrase in public communication in concert with
advocacy groups like Greenpeace. The term has also appeared in
official Government press releases.
Policymakers and their staff are, of course, intimately
familiar with these dynamics. We have just recently seen them
in practice as Republicans and Democrats have battled over
framing President Bush's proposed troop increases as a surge or
An example of how easy it is to misrepresent science in a
political setting, consider the memorandum prepared last week
by the majority staff of this committee to provide background
information on this hearing. The memorandum states quite
correctly that a consensus has emerged on the basic science of
global warming. It then goes on to assert that ``Recently
published studies have suggested that the impacts of global
warming include increases in the intensity of hurricanes and
It supports this claim by citing three papers, but what the
memorandum does not relate is that the authors of each of the
three cited papers recently participated with about 120 experts
from around the world to prepare a consensus statement under
the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization which
concluded, ``No consensus has been reached on this issue.'' The
WMO statement was subsequently endorsed by the Executive
Council of the American Meteorological Society.
Thus, the science cited in the committee memo is incomplete
and misleading. Such cherrypicking and misrepresentations of
science are endemic in political discussions involving science.
What has occurred in the preparation of this memorandum is in
microcosm the exact sort of thing we have seen with heavy-
handed Bush administration information management strategies
which include editing Government reports and overbearing
management of press releases and media contacts with
scientists. Inevitably, such ham-handed information management
will backfire because people will notice and demand
accountability. This oversight hearing today is good evidence
My written testimony goes into far more detail on issues of
press releases, agency media policies, empanelment of Federal
advisory committees and other subjects which I would be happy
to discuss with you further.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Pielke follows:]
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Mr. Waxman. Thank you for your testimony.
This committee has been trying to get documents from the
administration since last July, and we have made requests on a
bipartisan basis when Mr. Davis was chairman and I was the
ranking member. Now that I am chairman and he is the ranking
member, we are still making those requests.
We have sent today a letter to Mr. James L. Connaughton,
chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, asking again
for the information we requested. Without objection from any
member of the committee, I would like to put the letter by
Congressman Davis and myself in the record.
Furthermore, the staffs of our committee, Democratic and
Republican, were allowed to view these documents that we have
requested in camera. They weren't allowed to take them out. I
have a memorandum which provides additional information about
the documents from the White House Council on Environmental
Quality being sought by this committee, and I seek to make this
memorandum part of the record as well. Without objection, that
will be the order.
The Chair recognizes himself to start off the questions.
I thank all of you for your testimony.
Many experts are telling us that global warming is one of
the most severe environmental threats facing this Nation and
the world. The challenges confronting us are potentially
enormous. Therefore, I think policymakers have an obligation to
understand the science, and we need to get that scientific
information without any manipulation of the science, without
any suppressing of the reports or misleading the public about
the issues which seems to me would be a breach of the public
trust. So we have been asking for this information.
Dr. Shindell, you are one of the Nation's leading climate
change scientists, and I want to discuss some of the documents
that the committee staff reviewed and ask whether you are
concerned about the issues in these documents.
First of all, let me begin by asking you about some of the
edits urged by the White House Office of Management and Budget.
OMB asked that an EPA report be rewritten to remove the
statement that global warming may ``alter regional patterns of
climate'' and ``potentially affect the balance of radiation.''
Dr. Shindell, do you think this was an appropriate change in
The statement in the EPA draft was that climate change can
alter regional climates and affect the balance of radiation. Is
there any scientific justification for removing these
Mr. Shindell. No. That is a very well supported statement.
For the change in the energy balance of the planet, we have
satellite data that have measured that balance directly for
decades now, and we can see it changing, and it is extremely
well documented and uncontroversial.
As far as regional patterns, I mentioned before, Antarctica
has gone the other way from the rest of the globe. Different
areas have warmed more, others less. It is quite clear that
this is happening.
Mr. Waxman. Another edit deleted the phrase, ``changes
observed the last several decades are likely mostly the result
of human activities,'' and that phrase was replaced with a
phrase that said, ``a causal link between the buildup of
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the observed climate
changes during the 20th century cannot be unequivocally
established.'' Is this an appropriate change? Does the
rephrasing accurately represent the science or does it mislead
Mr. Shindell. I would say that is also a misleading
statement. While technically true, the first statement that
human activities play the dominant role is a much, much more
accurate picture of the science.
Mr. Waxman. Some of the edits we reviewed were made by CEQ
Chief of Staff Phillip Cooney. Now Mr. Cooney is not a
scientist by training. Instead, he is a lawyer who was working
as a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute before he
was appointed to his position at the Council on Environmental
Quality. I would like to ask you some questions about his
In one document, Mr. Cooney deleted a reference to the
National Research Council's finding that human activities are
causing temperatures to rise. Obviously, the National Research
Council is this country's premier scientific body. Can you tell
us if there is a scientific basis for deleting a reference to
Mr. Shindell. No. That is again a well supported statement.
Mr. Waxman. In the same document, Mr. Cooney deleted the
phrase ``climate change has global consequences for human
health and the environment.'' Is there anything scientifically
questionable about this phrase?
Mr. Shindell. Again, no.
Mr. Waxman. Yet another edit, Mr. Cooney wrote that
satellite data disputes global warming. Is this scientifically
Mr. Shindell. No. There was for many years a controversy
where satellite data showed warming but to a different degree
than was seen at the surface or that was predicted by models
higher up in the atmosphere. It never disputed global warming,
and that controversy has since been resolved.
Mr. Waxman. If climate change presents an incredibly
serious problem, then we need to get the facts and rely on
Federal scientists and agencies to give Congress and the public
the true facts about this global threat. Yet the preliminary
evidence we are seeing from the White House suggests that the
administration may have taken a very different approach. If the
documents we have seen so far are representative, it appears
that the White House installed a former oil industry lobbyist
as the Chief of Staff for the Council on Environmental Quality
and then systematically sought to prevent the Environmental
Protection Agency from reporting on dangers to health, the
environment and the economy. In effect, it appears that there
may have been an orchestrated effort to mislead the public
about the threat of global climate change.
These are serious allegations, and they are ones that we
will be exploring in detail in this hearing and in our ongoing
I thank the witnesses very much for answering my questions.
I do have further questions, and we will have a second round
for Members who wish to pursue a second round.
Mr. Davis, I yield to you.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Thank you.
Dr. Shindell, let me just say I am not asking and you can't
produce it today, but I would be very interested in looking at
the initial drafts that you had on the press releases and then
at the end result. It would give us, I think, a clue in terms
of what the administration did. I don't have copies of that,
but if you could produce that, that would be helpful.
Mr. Shindell. Sorry, I didn't follow.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. The initial drafts of press releases
that came out that you said were manipulated and changed over
time, I would be interested in seeing the draft that came from
the scientist and the end result that came out. I think that
would give the committee a good clue in terms of what
transpired in between.
Mr. Shindell. Yes, and there is more detail about that in
my submitted written testimony.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. I understand that, but if you could
produce the document, that would be helpful to us as we work
Mr. Shindell. OK.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Thank you.
Dr. Pielke, let me just ask you. In your testimony, you
talk about scientists or advocacy groups or even politicians
cherrypicking the best facts and using them in a way that is
most advantageous to their argument. This is also been called
fact-slinging. Why is this approach wrong and harmful to the
Mr. Pielke. Well, I think it is inevitable.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Push your button there.
Mr. Pielke. I think it is inevitable. I think whenever
people make an argument for a particular course of action, they
are going to frame their perspective in the best light
possible. When you go out on that limb and you present
information selectively or, worse, you misrepresent it, you
will get called on it. It will damage your own credibility. So
I think advocates of all stripes, it is unavoidable to be
selective in presentation of information.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. I guess we would like to navigate
away from that environment and the reason I have joined Mr.
Waxman in a request for documents from the administration, we
need to get everything laid out in fact. I think there is some
cherrypicking going on back and forth. It doesn't help when we
can't get them all, but it is important to get everything out
there so we can get a complete picture and then make an
appropriate analysis of what has and hasn't happened.
I wonder if you could discuss the policy reasons for
executive agencies vetting the work of their employees before
public comment is made on behalf of the agency.
Mr. Pielke. Well, there is a long----
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Is this a new process?
Mr. Pielke. It is not. For example, the Office of
Management and Budget has, at least since the 1920's, gone over
witness testimony from Government employees. The reason----
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Of both parties, right?
Mr. Pielke. Of both parties, and the reason for this is
that the governance of the United States would be impossible if
every Government employee were able to go out and interpret the
laws, policies in the way that they saw them. Imagine if
officials at the State Department below the top, every single
one of them were going out and voicing their views on Iran or
the Israeli-Palestine conflict. It would be, it would be chaos,
complete chaos. So at some level from the standpoint of policy,
Government has to coordinate its actions.
This becomes difficult when science is involved because the
view is that we can somehow separate science and politics. Let
scientists only talk about science. Let the policy, political
appointees only talk about the politics. But the reality is
science and politics are intermixed. A phrase like dangerous
climate change relates to the framework convention on climate
change. So if scientists in their official remarks say that
phrase, they are engaging in a political discussion.
I should point out NOAA and NASA have----
Mr. Davis of Virginia. They may or may not be right, but
that is their opinion and not the opinion the elected leaders.
Mr. Pielke. I want to point out NOAA and NASA have two
different approaches to how scientists communicate with the
public. NASA has said that its scientists can take off their
agency hat and speak as individuals. NOAA has said in its media
policy that they always speak for the agency. This is a perfect
topic for congressional oversight. What makes the most sense?
Does it makes sense to have scientists take off their hat or
I don't have an answer for that, but we do have
inconsistencies across the different agencies.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. We don't either, and our goal here,
I think, is to just get the facts and lay them out and then the
public can judge appropriately where truth lies.
This age-old process may qualify as politicization, but it
also can reflect a rational policy by a Presidential
administration in both parties as well to carry out what they
perceive as their mandate.
Mr. Pielke. Yes. Now let me say politics is how we get done
the business of society, and in popular parlance with the
public, politics has kind of a pejorative, negative notion. But
I think the Government funds about $140 billion worth of
scientific research, so it will be relevant to politics.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. In one of your writings, you stated
that well-regarded scientists who are known believers that
global warming is happening also believe the debate will not be
settled for more than a decade. If that is the case, then why
is it the only scholars we hear from are the ones that believe
it is so glaringly obvious that only a fool or an idiot could
Mr. Pielke. The statement you refer to is with respect to
the debate over tropical cyclones and climate change, and
indeed I think the general consensus is that it is going to
take some more research on that topic.
On the issue of global warming generally and particularly
global average temperatures, I point you to the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC], and Dr.
Shindell can probably represent that better than I.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Well, Mr. Connaughton was up here
before us, and he admitted that there was climate change or
warming going on, that in fact it was manmade and I think we
need to get to once we establish those parameters, then we can
make intelligent policies in terms of how we deal and what are
the ramifications with it. But there was no denial in the
administration when they were up here last year as well. I hope
we will get them back once they produce the documents, and they
can more fully talk about what their edits are and the like,
and we can have a better opportunity to address that.
It looks like my time is up.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Mr. Davis.
Mr. Davis on our side.
Mr. Davis of Illinois. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman,
and I want to thank all of the witnesses for appearing.
Mr. Piltz, let me ask you. You worked as a senior associate
in the Federal Climate Change Science Program. This is the
office that coordinates Government climate research. You
resigned in March 2005 after 10 years in the office. Can you
basically tell us why you resigned?
Mr. Piltz. Yes. I had increasingly come to see that the
administration was politicizing the communication of the
climate research. It is a $2 billion a year research program
involving 12 agencies, and from time to time this research gets
put together and assessments reports to Congress and so forth,
communicating to a wider audience. That is the point at which
administration political gatekeepers would step in to either
ignore the report if they couldn't stop it from being published
and misrepresent the intelligence in it if they needed to or
just flat out directly edit it if they could.
I was particularly concerned with this communication
function. That was what I was doing, and it became increasingly
impossible to work in that environment and to see this going
Mr. Davis of Illinois. Now let me ask you. You were there
for 10 years.
Mr. Piltz. Yes.
Mr. Davis of Illinois. Which means that you were there
prior to the current Bush administration.
Mr. Piltz. That is right, 5 years under the previous
administration and 5 years under the Bush administration.
Mr. Davis of Illinois. So how does this action or activity
compare with that of the previous administration?
Mr. Piltz. It is a good question, and let me say first of
all that no administration is above criticism, but I do think
that there was a significant difference under the previous
administration. The key liaison to the Climate Change Research
Program was the White House Science Office. Those were
scientists, and they, their way of thinking and talking and
writing about climate change was well within the mainstream of
the climate science community which I think they were trying to
feed into the policy process.
This was a different situation under the current
administration where you had people who were not scientists,
whose concern was not to make the communication clearer and
more accurate but to spin it politically so that the science
would not be communicated in such ways to threaten the
administration's political position. The administration had
made a decision up front it would not support a regulatory
constraint on greenhouse gas emissions, and it seemed to me
that they were uncomfortable with any straightforward
presentation of the growing body of scientific evidence about
Mr. Davis of Illinois. Now let me ask you. You also
discussed editing in your testimony.
Mr. Piltz. Yes.
Mr. Davis of Illinois. Mr. Phillip Cooney was the Chief of
Staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. We
have established that he was a lawyer and not a scientist.
Until 2001, he worked at the American Petroleum Institute as a
lobbyist and as their climate team leader.
You testified that Mr. Cooney made handwritten edits to
several science program reports in 2002 and 2003. Is that
Mr. Piltz. Yes.
Mr. Davis of Illinois. Generally, what type of edits were
Mr. Piltz. It was a very large number of edits. They came
at the 12th hour, the process after all of the career
assignments people had signed off and it never went back to
them. They had the aggregate effect of creating an enhanced
manufactured sense of fundamental scientific uncertainty about
global warming, of toning language about observed warming and
impacts, of basically discarding any idea that climate models
were useful and deleting language about the observed or
projected impacts of climate change.
Mr. Davis of Illinois. Let me just ask you.
Mr. Piltz. Sure.
Mr. Davis of Illinois. Was it part of your responsibility
to help prepare these documents or similar documents, so you
are testifying on the basis of firsthand knowledge, not on the
basis of something that you heard, read or were told about?
Mr. Piltz. No. I had to deal with the edits directly, yes,
Mr. Davis of Illinois. Thank you very much.
Mr. Chairman, I suspect that my time is up.
Mr. Waxman. Yes, thank you very much.
Mr. Davis of Illinois. Thank you.
Mr. Issa. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I know it is anecdotal, but how many scientists can raise
their hand here on the dais? Just checking. I won't ask how
many lawyers up here. That would be telling.
Mr. Piltz, I think I will start with you. Your degrees and
background are political science?
Mr. Piltz. Yes.
Mr. Issa. So you are not a scientist.
Mr. Piltz. No, I am not a climate scientist.
Mr. Issa. Would it be fair to say you are no more qualified
to evaluate these edits than the petroleum lawyer, is that
right? I mean in the greater world of scientist, non-scientist.
Mr. Piltz. I think that climate scientists who look at the
edits would regard them as, in the aggregate, pretty egregious,
but I am not arguing particular points.
Mr. Issa. I appreciate that. I just wanted the simple
answer. We have been trashing a lawyer I have never met, and I
am happy to trash all lawyers, but what it comes down to is he
wasn't a scientist, you are not a scientist.
My understanding is Mr. Cooney's edits or proposed edits
were then reviewed by a scientific committee convened by the
National Research Council, and many of his edits were then
Mr. Piltz. No.
Mr. Issa. I will be very surprised if my staff is somehow
misunderstanding the fact that his edits were not the last
word. In fact, there was further scientific review that I am
missing in your testimony.
Mr. Chairman, I hope we can get to the bottom of that
because I am not sure that discrepancy can be easily worked out
Dr. Grifo, I know you are fairly new to UCS. You have been
there, what, about a year, something like that?
Ms. Grifo. A little longer.
Mr. Issa. And you come out of Columbia.
Ms. Grifo. Yes.
Mr. Issa. But do you know the history of the organization?
I am trying to understand a little bit more. My
understanding is UCS was formed at MIT to oppose the Vietnam
War in 1968. Is that roughly correct?
Ms. Grifo. No, sir, that is an incorrect characterization.
Mr. Issa. Was it formed in 1968?
Ms. Grifo. Yes, sir.
Mr. Issa. Was it formed at MIT?
Ms. Grifo. Yes, sir.
Mr. Issa. Did it oppose the Vietnam War?
Ms. Grifo. I have no idea, but that was not its purpose in
Mr. Issa. Well, moving down a little bit, you would
characterize your group as a peer watchdog organization?
Ms. Grifo. No, sir. We are a science-based non-profit.
Mr. Issa. You do a study that sends out from a list that
you generate. You send out 1,600 questionnaires by email. You
get back 19 percent of them. Then you come up with a whole
series of assumptions, and you bring them here and say this is
what the science community says.
I may not be a scientist. Matter of fact, I am definitely
not a scientist or a lawyer, but I will tell you here today
because I am very concerned about what is being brought to us
as science. If I take all of the subjective answers to emails,
press statements, etc. that come into my office anecdotally
from my constituents, I would find 100 percent chance that they
want all illegals taken out of the country and no guest worker
program because there is almost 100 to 0 response. Self-
selected, those are the people I hear from. The people who
think maybe a guest worker program wouldn't be bad, you have to
really tear it out of them.
I would only say that in the future if you are going to
bring us studies that they live up to, let us say, the
standards of John Zogby and not some sort of an email self-
serving response. I was very disappointed in seeing that.
Ms. Grifo. Excuse me. May I respond?
Mr. Issa. Of course.
Ms. Grifo. Thank you very much for the opportunity.
Our methodology was in fact quite a bit more complex than
the way that you have characterized it. We spent an enormous
amount of time and energy looking through the climate documents
of the Climate Change Research Group, Web sites. The Government
does not publish in fact a directory of its Federal climate
scientists. So we did in fact have to go through and produce a
list. We had very strict criteria for which scientists we
included on this list. We had strict criteria for their
backgrounds and so on.
Mr. Issa. OK, and I appreciate that. Can you make that
available to us?
Ms. Grifo. Absolutely.
Mr. Issa. Is there peer review scientific oversight of your
selection and was there an offset to say that your selection
was valid or invalid? In other words, Dr. Pielke, would he in
fact have had a chance to say, oh, this is a bad list, you
missed 300, 400? Was there any kind of an independent review?
Ms. Grifo. Yes, sir.
Mr. Issa. And by whom?
Ms. Grifo. By a number of climate scientists across the
community, and in fact Mr. Piltz was one, and there were
several others. I can get you that list.
Mr. Issa. Mr. Piltz is a political scientist.
Ms. Grifo. But he is aware of who are the Federal climate
scientists doing that kind of research, and he was one of many
individuals that looked at it.
Mr. Issa. I appreciate it. I am afraid I don't think that
you have made your case.
Ms. Grifo. I am not quite done, sir.
Mr. Issa. Dr. Pielke, you said in your statement, and I
think it is very notable, that there is going to be politics in
all of this.
Mr. Chairman, how is my time?
Mr. Waxman. Go ahead and finish your question.
Mr. Issa. Let me just ask one simple question. During the
Eisenhower period you mentioned, isn't true that while
President Eisenhower was leading the war against the Soviets,
he was in fact downplaying the risk and the threat while
funding the very things that allowed us to win the cold war?
Isn't that essentially the story of Eisenhower's managing of
things like that threat?
Mr. Pielke. I think, essentially, in a soundbite fashion,
that is accurate, but the story of Eisenhower and particularly
the nuclear test ban efforts--this was before my time in
academic literature--is that there was tremendous conflict
among competing scientists, all very preeminent, about the
politics of whether we wanted to engage in a nuclear test in
the atmosphere or not illustrate how science came to become
very politicized even 50 years ago.
Mr. Issa. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Mr. Issa.
Ms. Watson. I want to thank all the witnesses that are here
today for being direct and answering the questions directly.
There is no attempt to intimidate. We are trying to get
information. So my questions go to Dr. Grifo.
Making available the study results lead me to raise these
questions. What percentage of the scientists personally felt
pressured to eliminate the words, climate change, global
warming or similar terms from their scientific communications?
I have been told as a Member of Congress, do not use the
word, global warming. Well, they are telling me. They don't
know who I am. And so, can you answer that, please?
Ms. Grifo. Yes, thank you very much. Forty-six percent
perceived or personally experienced pressure to eliminate those
words, and I would say that is a total of 147 climate
scientists. So that number should be zero.
Ms. Watson. Those are Government scientists who felt
pressured to avoid even using the words, climate change or
Ms. Grifo. Yes.
Ms. Watson. That is the number?
Ms. Grifo. Yes.
Ms. Watson. Because I know what I was told. OK, thank you.
Did any scientists see their work or the work of others
changed or edited during reviews in ways that changed the
meaning of their scientific findings?
You might have referred to that. I happened to be in the
back. I had a conference. And so, could you respond?
Ms. Grifo. Yes, thank you. Forty-three percent which was
over two in five of our respondents, and I would also say that
is 128 Federal climate scientists who personally experienced or
perceived changes or edits during review that changed the
meaning of their findings.
Ms. Watson. Were their scientific findings ever
misrepresented by agency officials?
Ms. Grifo. Yes, in fact, 37 percent of our respondents
which is 110 Federal climate scientists perceived or personally
experienced agency misrepresentation of their findings.
Ms. Watson. How many total instances of political
interference did Government climate scientists report?
Ms. Grifo. That was 400, at least 435. We had a range in
each of the questions that they could answer. So that is the
smallest number. It may indeed be much higher.
Ms. Watson. How many Government scientists personally
experienced political interference?
Ms. Grifo. Personally experienced? I will have to get you
that number. I don't have it in front of me, but it is a large
Ms. Watson. Now let me ask Mister----
Ms. Grifo. 150, thank you.
Ms. Watson. 150, OK, thank you.
Mr. Piltz and Dr. Shindell, do these numbers surprise you?
First, Mr. Piltz.
Mr. Piltz. They surprise me a little bit that it is quite
so high. I was aware of particular case studies, but this shows
me that this s a much more pervasive pattern throughout the
agencies than even I was aware of before.
Ms. Watson. Dr. Shindell.
Mr. Shindell. Yes, I had been aware of this mostly amongst
the most prominent, the lab directors at the various research
institutes. So this indicates that it is more widespread than I
expected as well.
Ms. Watson. I am wondering, Dr. Grifo, if we could actually
get some of the scientific reports that have been changed, the
wording has been changed. Can we get those? I think there was a
request from the minority ranking member, and if we could get
that, it would certainly help.
I think this kind of thing must stop. I have witnessed the
administration politicizing factual information and misleading
the Americans. I will not be misled, and I would like the facts
in front of me. The interpretation of the facts is what we need
to hear and see because I think many of us are being misled. We
cannot stand for that.
I want to thank you very much and thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Ms. Watson.
Mr. Sali. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
For Mr. Shindell, Mr. Shindell, every office that is
represented by the membership on the dais up here has a vetting
process for every statement that goes out of our offices. Of
course, everyone would agree that tends to be political in
nature, and we want to make sure that the political discussion
ends up with one voice that represents the top of the heap, if
you will. I don't suppose that there is anybody on this dais
that would think that is problematic. However, when we talk
about this issue and the matters that go on in this hearing, we
are going to be issuing similar statements.
Do you have any guidance for this committee about how we
might make that transition from science to politics to get the
truth out to the people, recognizing that there will be
dramatically different statements coming out of the various
Mr. Shindell. Well, I think that the scientific community
has managed to convey the general viewpoint or the mainstream
viewpoint quite well in numerous venues already, and that has
taken place when the President called for the National Academy
to look at climate change after the last IPCC assessment report
and later this week the next IPCC report will be issued. I
think these are really authoritative reports.
It is really, in many ways, it is a wonderful thing. If you
had a problem and you were able not just to get the advice of
one or two people but to get the best experts in that
particular area from all over the world to look at the evidence
and really present what their best evaluation is, I think you
would be very pleased. I think we as the public would be very
lucky to have it.
Mr. Sali. Would it be correct to say that the opinions
coming out of the scientific community are uniform then with
regard to climate change or global warming?
Mr. Shindell. Pardon?
Mr. Sali. With regard to climate change or global warming
or whatever you want to call it, is it your contention then
that the opinions within the scientific community are
Mr. Shindell. Well, that would certainly depend on the
particular details of which issue is being discussed, but in
general there is never unanimity in science. It is a back and
forth of ideas. Scientists, by nature, are skeptical, always
doubting what everybody else is saying, and a consensus emerges
Mr. Sali. So then is it your further contention that
somehow the minority opinions aren't worthwhile in the
discussion, that we ought to just disregard those?
Mr. Shindell. I don't think that those, that anybody's
views are disregarded as long as they go through the standard
scientific process which is peer review. So papers and
documentation must or claims of scientific nature must be
validated, and they must be supported, and that support has to
be evaluated by scientists.
Claims are submitted every once in a while. There are
papers that come into the same journals that mainstream climate
scientists publish in, and those are evaluated by scientists.
The problem is that these claims don't pass muster. They don't
have the scientific evidence to back them up, so they are not
making it into the debate because they are not judged to be, to
have adequate support. So those that do get published are
included in reports like the IPCC, the National Assessment, the
Academy reports, anything that gets through the process is
Mr. Sali. OK, so I want to make sure I am getting this now.
Are you saying that there is no disagreement among the
scientific community regarding global warming or climate
change, yes or no?
Mr. Shindell. There is no restraint?
Mr. Sali. That there is no disagreement.
Mr. Shindell. No, I am not saying that there is no
disagreement. I am saying that what----
Mr. Sali. Then are you saying that those in the minority
view ought to be disregarded out of hand?
Mr. Shindell. I do not think that anybody's viewpoint needs
to be disregarded, but I would say that when the vast majority
of the community comes down on one side and there are
remarkably few voices on the other side that are able to
adequately back up the claims that they make, then I think the
conclusion is pretty clear of where our best judgment of what
is going on lies.
Mr. Sali. Correct me if I am wrong. Then you are saying
that the real scientists all agree about global warming and
Mr. Shindell. No. I wouldn't disparage any scientists'
claims based on their background or what they believed.
Somebody mentioned Richard Lindzen from MIT earlier. He is an
eminent scientist, has done great work in the past. He is free
to publish anything he likes as long as it gets through the
same process that everybody else uses, and that process is the
best way we have had for centuries now to really give science
the rigorous evaluation it needs to determine which theories
went out and which evidence is strong enough that we believe it
is most likely to be true, and that has come down on the side
of mainstream scientists.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Mr. Sali. Your time has expired.
I want to call on Mr. Tierney.
Mr. Tierney. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Shindell, I am
impressed that you have taken the time personally to come here
today. You are here, I understand, on your own as a scientist,
am I correct? You have no political agenda or do you?
Mr. Shindell. That is correct.
Mr. Tierney. That you are here as a scientist?
Mr. Shindell. Yes. Yes, I am here to testify about climate
science and I can relate my personal experiences. That is all.
Mr. Tierney. Thank you.
Mr. Piltz, when Mr. Issa was questioning, there was some
inference, I thought, that Mr. Cooney made edits and I think he
was implying or at least asking whether or not there was
another round of production on that, but we have documents that
indicate, one note directly from Mr. Cooney saying that these
changes must be made.
Then we have the EPA memorandum itself where the staff
gives just three options to the administrator to choose. One is
that you accept everything CEQ and OMB submit. The second
option was you remove the climate section altogether. The third
was that you go back and forth and try to reach some compromise
which they decided would antagonize the White House and likely
wouldn't be feasible to negotiate an agreeable text. So they
opted for just taking the climate change out of the report.
Do you have a different recollection of that? Was there in
fact any additional back and forth after Mr. Cooney made his
Mr. Piltz. I wasn't involved in that EPA report, but
analogously from my own experience with Climate Change Science
Program reports, the reports would be drafted and reviewed and
vetted and approved by a large number and layers of career
science people and Federal science program managers. That is
what I worked on. All of my stuff had to be approved before it
could go forward. The White House would come in after that
process and intervene, and it would never have to go back for
clearance with the scientists.
As for the Academy, the Academy of Sciences reviewed the
program's strategic plan and in general praised it but
criticized it for the vanishing of the National Assessment of
Climate Change Impacts, criticized it over and over again as a
conspicuous and unwarranted omission. The administration has
stonewalled the Academy of Sciences since the Academy said that
and has offered no defense, no response in its own defense.
Mr. Tierney. Thank you.
We have obtained, the committee has obtained some
documents, surprisingly enough. We have obtained email
correspondence between NOAA and White House employees, and they
indicate quite an involvement of the White House with the press
contacts of NOAA scientists. I think they show a kind of
political interference that we are talking about here today,
and it is not really the results of a couple of low level or
over-zealous press officials but direct involvement by the
White House. I want to go through just a couple of these emails
if I could and then ask some of the panelists about it. All of
these emails are from June 2005.
The first email is from an environmental reporter. The
reporter requests an interview with a NOAA scientist about how
climate change science has become politicized.
The second email, the scientists responds that the reporter
will need to ask the NOAA press corps.
In the third email, the NOAA press officer writes to the
White House Council on Environmental Quality and says the press
officer expressed concern that the reporter may fish for the
answers she is looking for but knows that the NOAA scientist
``knows his boundaries.'' Then the press officer asks for the
White House instructions by the end of the day.
The next email from the NOAA press officer states, if we
have CEQ approval to go ahead, then that would be good.
In another email, the NOAA press officer reports that CEQ
and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
have given the green light for the interview. The press officer
then states, the CEQ officials want me to monitor the call and
report back when done.
So my question, Mr. Piltz and Mr. Shindell, are you
surprised that the NOAA press officers were reporting back to
the White House about the content of press interviews with
Government climate scientists and do you think it is
appropriate for the White House to decide whether or not a
Government scientist can speak to the press?
Mr. Piltz. I am not surprised. I do not think it is
appropriate. I don't think that when the press makes an inquiry
to the Federal Climate Change Science Program, that everything
should have to be routed to the NOAA press office which has
been politically compromised by the administration officials
who are at the head of NOAA. We need a different, more
unimpeded type of communication out of the Climate Change
Mr. Tierney. Dr. Shindell, your comments?
Mr. Shindell. Well, I am not terribly surprised either
because it sounds very similar to what we were told at NASA was
happening when we were inquiring as to why we were having so
much difficulty communicating, that this was coming from the
White House. So it sounds very similar, and I don't think it is
Mr. Tierney. Dr. Pielke made a comment that the Office of
Management and Budget looks at witness testimony for
administration policy consistency and would seem to say that
was a reason why all of this was OK. Am I wrong to think that
there has to be some distinction between a policy and
somebody's comment on science, their conclusions based on fact,
Mr. Pielke. Well, let me correct an impression, if I gave
it, that it was OK. It is not OK.
Mr. Tierney. Dr. Grifo is a ventriloquist. I am sorry.
Go ahead, you can answer, but I had asked Dr. Grifo the
question. Do you want to answer it? Do you want to go ahead?
Mr. Pielke. I am sorry. I thought you were talking to me.
Mr. Tierney. No, but I will give you the chance if you want
to have something to say on that.
Mr. Pielke. No. Go ahead. My apologies.
Mr. Tierney. OK, thank you. Dr. Grifo.
Ms. Grifo. Thank you. I think that when you get that Ph.D.,
when you become a scientist, you do not give up your--I mean I
think that. I know that. You don't give up your constitutional
rights. You maintain your right as a citizen of free speech,
and I think that is incredibly important that we remember that
this is discussions about science.
I would like to say that the results that we found, our
experience with this issue is really a small part of what Mr.
Pielke is talking about. He is talking about a very interesting
topic which is the role of science in public policy,
fascinating, but that is not what our program is really
focusing on. We are looking at the science that is changed,
that is manipulated, that is somehow touched in a way that
alters it before it even gets into that public policy arena.
What we are calling for is that scientists are allowed to speak
about their scientific results and get that information out to
the taxpayers that are paying for it, to the community at
large, to policymakers, to everyone that needs to really
understand this issue.
Mr. Tierney. Is it a fair statement to----
Mr. Waxman. Mr. Tierney.
Mr. Tierney. Sorry?
Mr. Waxman. Your time has expired.
Mr. Tierney. OK, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Waxman. Mr. Lynch.
Mr. Lynch. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Earlier in this hearing, there was the suggestion of bias
on the part of the Union of Concerned Scientists because of a
position that the organization may or may not have taken in
1968 on the Vietnam War. I hope I am not the only one in this
hearing to point out the elephant in the room.
Perhaps it is just me, but we have a situation here where
the Bush administration chose as its Chief of Staff for the
White House Council on Environmental Quality, a person who had
led the oil industry's fight against limits on emissions of
greenhouse gases. This is someone who worked for the American
Petroleum Institute. So I scratch my head to say why. Why would
the administration put someone who was so vehemently biased in
an important role like this?
Mr. Piltz, the analogy of the fox in the hen house is not
appropriate, I believe in this case. Mr. Piltz, in your
responsibility in your official capacity prior to resigning in
protest, you were responsible for editing a document called Our
Changing Planet, is that correct?
Mr. Piltz. Yes, the annual report to Congress.
Mr. Lynch. Right, and just to clear something up, your role
there was to take information from 90 scientists, the reports
of those scientists, contributions made by them and put it in a
forum that is usable by Congress.
Mr. Piltz. That is right and to then fact-check with them
before it went forward.
Mr. Lynch. So these weren't your own opinions.
Mr. Piltz. No.
Mr. Lynch. These were bonafide scientists with obviously
scientific research to back up their opinions.
Mr. Piltz. Yes.
Mr. Lynch. Now, what I would like to do is get on the
record. You have talked generally about what was done by Mr.
Cooney. It is my understanding that after he resigned, he went
back to work for Exxon Mobile. That is the information that I
have from majority staff.
But I would like to talk about some specific instances of
his editing and what that might have reflected. Can you give us
a few specific examples of edits by Mr. Cooney to this report
Mr. Piltz. Yes, I can do that and you know. If I may just
preface that for a moment by saying that I really have tried to
emphasize what seems to me the illegitimacy of the whole
process by which this happened rather than arguing particular
edits, and in many cases these hundreds of edits would just
change a word or two, but you know what happens when you change
``shall'' to ``may.''
Mr. Lynch. Right.
Mr. Piltz. But there are other places where whole chunks of
text are deleted. For example, there is one passage where it
came to him saying, ``warming will also cause reductions in
mountain glaciers and advance the timing of the melt of
mountain snow packs in polar regions. In turn, runoff rates
will change. Flood potential will be altered in ways that are
currently well understood. There will be significant shifts in
the seasonality of runoff that will have serious impacts on
native populations that rely on fishing and hunting for their
livelihood. These changes will be further complicated by shifts
in precipitation regimes and a possible intensification and
increased frequency of extreme hydrological events.''
That was deleted.
Mr. Lynch. Now did Mr. Cooney ever give a plausible reason
why he would extract a warning of snow melt and degradation of
glaciers which we are seeing now? Did he ever give a plausible
reason why he would remove that warning to Congress?
Mr. Piltz. He called it speculative musing.
Mr. Lynch. Speculative musings.
Mr. Piltz. Speculative musing.
Mr. Lynch. Are there other documents or other instances you
can point to that would help us?
Mr. Piltz. Yes, there was in another passage, the draft
said, ``with continued perturbation of the Earth's radiative
balance, climate model projects based on a range of possible
scenarios such as a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide
suggest that during the 21st century, climate changes due to
human influences will be substantially larger than what has
been identified up until now.''
Mr. Lynch. Again, if I could just pause there.
Mr. Piltz. He said delete. He said delete.
Mr. Lynch. It sounds like you are saying that the amount of
carbon and that measurement is very important. What was his
response to that assumption or that projection?
Mr. Piltz. The models don't all give the same result, so it
is inappropriate to speak in summary terms about this type of
Mr. Lynch. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.
Mr. Piltz. I could go on but that sort of thing.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Mr. Lynch.
Mr. Higgins. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Piltz, I would like to ask you about the National
Assessment on Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and
Change. Your office was involved in putting this document
together in 2001. You have described it ``as the most
comprehensive and authoritative scientifically based assessment
of the potential consequences of climate change in the United
In it, there are projections of potential temperature
increases and the consequences those increases would have on
our natural environment. This is obviously an important report.
Why haven't we heard more about it?
Mr. Piltz. Well, it was distributed to every Member of
Congress around the end of 2000, 2001, but very early on in
2001, about the same time that the administration was pulling
back from the Kyoto Protocol talks, we were directed by the
White House Science Office to start deleting all references to
the National Assessment, in the first instance to the annual
report to Congress and then in the later in the strategic plan
for the Climate Change Science Program.
There were lawsuits filed, attempting to suppress the
National Assessment and even remove the links to it from a
Government Web site, although it was a taxpayer-funded study,
filed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute which is an Exxon
Mobile-funded policy group. The lawsuits were dismissed, in one
case with prejudice, but the administration awarded the
political victory to the litigants by back channel without much
of a paper trail, instructing the Federal agencies just to stop
using this report and going forward with any analogous
I think it is because this process of putting of scientists
in direct communication with policymakers and stakeholders,
region by region, sector by sector, generated a type of dialog
that probably was going to lead to greater public pressure for
taking the global warming problem seriously and doing something
about it, and this was a type of discourse that the
administration just did not want to see happening, in my
Mr. Higgins. In this instance and others that you have
referenced in your testimony, this is not isolated. This is
Mr. Piltz. That is right. But I think that this is, I
regard this as the central climate science scandal of the Bush
administration because it so pervasively shut down a widespread
process of intelligence gathering and national preparedness,
and we now have 6 years without high level support for this
type of process for linking science to society, and we are
losing something because of that.
Mr. Higgins. Do you have any evidence that policy, that
attitude has changed?
Mr. Piltz. No.
Mr. Higgins. Thank you.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Mr. Higgins.
Mr. Shays. Thank you.
Mr. Piltz, I want to state from the start I believe there
is a global climate change. I believe I would call it global
warming. I don't get too exercised over which term I use. I
think it is manmade, and I think it stared us in the face for
years. So I disagree with the position and policy of this
administration, but I find myself being a little defensive
about whether we are talking about changes in scientific
reports or disagreements over policy. I came here thinking I
would be more inclined to say change in scientific reports, and
as I listen, I find myself--I don't know if I am feeling
defensive here for the administration or just really saying let
us be fair.
The bottom line is you are not a scientist, correct?
Mr. Piltz. That is right. I am not a climate scientist.
Mr. Shays. You are not a scientist.
Mr. Piltz. Right.
Mr. Shays. Climate scientist or anything, you are not a
Mr. Piltz. No. I try to communicate with and represent the
Mr. Shays. Why did you even say you are not a climate
scientist? That gives the impression that you are a scientist.
He is a political scientist.
Mr. Waxman. He is a political scientist.
Mr. Piltz. A social scientist by academic training, yes.
Mr. Shays. I find myself being defensive because I feel
like you are trying to give an impression that is a little
false to me.
There are 90 reports, 80 reports, whatever. You took these
reports and you synthesize. That is your term. It is editing.
You take some of what they did and leave something out,
Mr. Piltz. Well, yes, to try to clarify the communication,
Mr. Shays. You don't even have to clarify it.
Mr. Piltz. Yes.
Mr. Shays. Because the bottom line is you want to use the
word, synthesize because that is a more comfortable word for
you to use than edit. The bottom line is you edit it. You as a
non-scientist took scientific reports and you edited them down
to a position that you felt was respectful of what they did.
Mr. Piltz. Yes.
Mr. Shays. And I understand that, but you are not a
scientist and you edited it. The bottom line is you have come
to the conclusion that when another non-scientist took this, he
chose to say well, which report, which scientist you are
listening to and which you aren't. Somebody who also wasn't a
scientist said we don't want you to make this comment and this
description. I think they were wrong. I think that they made a
policy decision that ultimately may even be destructful. So I
am not even going to argue about that.
I just don't like the fact that we are basically trying to
give the impression that somehow you are a scientist and you
came in and you described it all, and then this non-scientist
disagreed with you. That is the feeling that I came with before
this hearing. I respect you for your convictions. I respect you
for even resigning if you think you weren't being treated
fairly or positions were being distorted, but I still come down
to the points I have just made.
Now what would you like to tell me?
Mr. Piltz. Well, first of all, I worked with, collaborated
with the scientists and had their sign-off. I was not at war
with the mainstream science community. That is one.
I did not write or edit the National Climate Assessment. If
you look at the panel of eminent people who wrote it, it is a
very impressive group of people. It is not junk science. It is
stuff that should not be suppressed.
Mr. Shays. I understand that.
Mr. Piltz. OK. I don't know. Nobody was telling the
scientists what they could publish in the technical journals.
This was about communication, but it wasn't just policy. It was
spinning the scientific, the state of knowledge, statements
about science for political effect.
Mr. Shays. Let me ask you. Were there any scientific
reports that you chose to not discuss because they were in
conflict with a majority of the position? Was there any
Mr. Piltz. Normally, I worked----
Mr. Shays. Let me ask the question and be very clear. Was
there any scientific data that you looked at that you did not
include because it wasn't with the mainstream?
Mr. Piltz. I don't think so. I worked with what was passed
forward to me by the career science people.
Mr. Shays. Well, that is important. You are saying that all
the scientific data that was provided you, you included and
didn't leave any out.
Mr. Piltz. Generally speaking, there was editing for
length, but if you look at the reports that I worked on, it is
generally speaking, non-controversial material. It is pretty
straightforward, descriptions of research highlights and
program plans and so forth.
Mr. Shays. My time has come to an end, but I just want to
be clear on this thing. Were you selective in the scientific
comments that you provided? Did you make any decision to
include this scientific data and not this scientific data? That
is really what I am asking.
Mr. Piltz. Yes, I engaged in some editorial selection, as I
say, but everything I did was in collaboration with the
scientists, was reviewed, revised, edited and approved by the
career science people before it could go forward.
Mr. Shays. OK, thank you.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Mr. Shays.
Ms. McCollum. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I was really surprised just how widespread this problem
was. Last week, my office had an opportunity to speak with a
climate scientist who is now working in Minnesota, formerly
employed by a Federal agency and she saw the suppression of
climate change research firsthand. In her words, ``We were told
the answers to our analysis before we conducted our research.''
I remember from my science classes, going through
scientific discovery, that you set up the hypothesis and then
you proved it right or wrong, not the other way.
Mr. Shindell, can I ask you for some help? The committee
staff went to some CEQ offices and they looked at some
documentation. In one of the documents, CEQ Chief of Staff Phil
Cooney informs Kevin O'Donovan who is in the Executive Office
of the President that they will start to use a recent paper by
Willie Soon and Sally Baliunas to rebut the views of the
National Academy of Sciences Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change. Now, apparently, this Soon-Baliunas paper asserts that
the 20th century is probably not the warmest climate period of
the last millennium. Are you familiar with this paper?
I might be saying the one person's name wrong too. You
might want to correct that for the record.
Mr. Shindell. Yes, I am familiar with that.
Ms. McCollum. Now I served on the Education Committee, and
one of the things that the President and the administration was
very focused on was that teachers would teach to the subject
that they were trained in. Can you tell us about this paper?
My understanding is that using this paper to rebut the
National Academy and the IPCC, maybe these weren't the best
scientists to do that.
Mr. Shindell. This was an interesting paper, and I think it
demonstrates the point that came up in one of the other
Member's questioning about what is allowed. Really, whatever
stands up to scientific scrutiny is allowed, and it is not
dependent on the views of the scientist.
So Soon and Baliunas are both astronomers. They are not
climate scientists, but that is OK, as long as their work
stands up. Basically, what that paper was, there is no original
research. It is instead a survey of other climate scientists'
work where they basically took all of the uncertainties and
caveats, things that were not included in the studies, compiled
them and said that then, given that there were so many
uncertainties and things that were not fully understood, we
could not say much of anything about climate change. However,
that is in complete contrast to the views of nearly every
expert in climate science.
So I think that is not at all representative, and I would
not say that one alternative paper undermines the thousands of
papers that go into a document like the IPCC report.
Ms. McCollum. They are scientists. They are entitled to
their own opinion, but this is not their field of expertise,
Mr. Shindell. That is correct.
Ms. McCollum. It is my understanding that the paper led to
a lot of controversy. Press reports indicated that the study
was funded by the oil industry and that the editor in chief of
the journal resigned when the owners of the journal refused to
allow him to publish an editorial saying that the paper in fact
was flawed. Is that your understanding?
Mr. Shindell. Yes, I believe that is correct.
Ms. McCollum. One of the more troubling aspects of this
document seems to be that it reflects on what amount of
strategy decision that the White House had in part, in fact,
that the White House was going to use this study to rebut the
prevailing scientific reviews. Do you find this troubling to
you as a scientist to have a person who is a scientist but in a
totally different field, not an expert in what you are working
on, be given the same weight and credibility in rebutting what
you are saying rather than a peer in the same field of science?
Mr. Shindell. I do find that quite troubling. I used the
analogy in my testimony of a patient having to trust their
doctor, and this would be tantamount to you having a heart
condition and getting repots from heart experts all over the
world, giving you their best opinion of all the medical data,
and then somebody coming on and saying, why don't you look at
what these skin doctors have to say. They are a couple of
people, you know. I think let us throw out this assessment by
all the world's experts and let us take this one instead.
I think it would be very foolish for anybody to do such a
Ms. McCollum. I thank you for that.
I am very concerned in looking on page 21 of the document,
Atmospher of Pressure, ``I have perceived in others or
personally experienced changes and edits during the review that
changed the meaning''--that changed the meaning--``of
Further on the page, it says, ``Statements by officials at
my agency that misrepresented''--misrepresented--``a
I can look at the color of your blue tie, sir, and I can
say it is robin's egg blue or I can say it is baby blue. But a
scientist could look at that tie and tell me exactly what color
it is by science, and that is indisputable. The other two items
are my opinion, but the other one is science.
I thank you so much, Mr. Shindell. What would you say about
Mr. Waxman. The gentlelady's time has expired.
Mr. Shindell. I would just say that is an interesting
counterpoint to some of the cases that were raised before where
there were synthesis documents. The cases where there was
interference at my agency were specific scientific reports.
There was no policy involved. They were simply this is the
result of a particular set of observations for a particular
modeling study, and those were nevertheless edited when they
showed the dangers of climate change.
Ms. McCollum. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you.
Mr. Sarbanes. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I have just a couple of questions that are interrelated.
The first is, and this may sound a little naive but what I am
trying to get to is your understanding. Mr. Piltz, I think you
are in the best position to address this, your understanding of
what was motivating inside the CEQ, inside the White House.
I guess the range of options could include that you had a
small handful of people that had sort of been given license
within this office to exercise their own personal ideological
political perspective and that is what they were doing and/or
they were responding, and this would be sinister, to pressure
from external influences and/or that they were carrying out a
fairly specific and focused policy agenda coming even from
higher levels. Based on your observation of this conduct that
was occurring in the CEQ, can you speak to that at all?
Mr. Piltz. Well, I wasn't in the room with them while that
was being worked out, so I have to analyze it from a step back,
but as a political scientist, I would say that there are
elements of all three of those to explain this.
I think the administration came in with predetermined
political agenda on greenhouse gas emissions and the global
warming problem that it was not going to support a regulatory
policy. The willingness to allow political operatives to engage
in misrepresenting the intelligence on the science side, the
spinning of the politics back into the science communication is
a problem. I think that they were representing particular
stakeholder interests, political, particularly in conjunction
with political allies. Also, it just seemed to me that they
brought with them some kind of animus toward proactive
government problem-solving and preparedness to deal with
consequences of decisions or not making decisions and have left
us in this position.
So somehow this global, the way the global warming issue
has been handled is somehow indicative to me of a modus
operandi that we have seen across a range of issues, and this
is the global warming piece of it.
Mr. Sarbanes. Right.
Mr. Piltz. Did that make any sense.
Mr. Sarbanes. It does. I think you are saying it is
symptomatic of an attitude that cut across other ways that the
administration has handled things.
Let me ask you this. I am trying to understand the purpose
of a retrospective like this, I think is to inform what goes
forward. I am struggling to understand for myself the point at
which one can say that the scientific inquiry for the moment is
concluded. I understand this is ongoing and it changes every
day but where you feel comfortable as a scientific community
coming forward and saying this is what we know and it has
reached the point where the political aspect of it ought to be
kept at bay because people will say, well, we are just trying
to bring more balance, we are just trying to complete the
So is it at the point where the National Academy of
Sciences, for example, says there is a strong, almost
unprecedented consensus on this issue, that one can feel
comfortable that this represents good science and we ought to
accept it as such? Where is that line?
Mr. Piltz. You can't. You can't try to make the science
community say that they are absolutely certain about something.
When they say something is very likely, you ought to take it
seriously. The science community has a lot of integrity and
owning up to their own uncertainties and they are always asking
the next question, but you always make your policy decisions in
the face of some uncertainty about the implications. What
happens is people with political agendas come in, who have a
predatory relationship to that uncertainty language and they
use it for reason in a way that is different from the way the
scientific community uses it. So you know you will not get them
to say we are 100 percent certain.
I always cringe when somebody says the science is in. It is
time for action.
I mean we have a National research program that is our
basic intelligence capability for understanding what we are
doing to Planet Earth. That needs to be supported. It has
always had strong bipartisan support regardless of political
debates about the policy implications, and that scientific
research needs to go on. But while it is addressing whatever
questions need to be addressed, policymaking has to proceed in
tandem with that, not at the end of some science process. The
two have an ongoing interplay.
Mr. Sarbanes. That is a powerful phrase, predatory
relationship to the uncertainty of the science. I will use that
if you give me permission.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Mr. Sarbanes.
Mr. Welch. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Pielke, I noticed in your written testimony, you made a
claim that the memo that was prepared by the committee staff
for this hearing is ``exactly the same sort of thing that we
have seen with heavy-handed Bush administration information
strategies,'' and I take the charge that you make very
seriously. You are, if I understand it, essentially accusing
the committee of the conduct that it is investigating.
You took specific offense with the memo's discussion of the
state of science regarding the connections between global
warming and hurricanes, where the memo notes, recently
published studies have suggested that the impacts of global
warming include increases in the intensity of hurricanes and
So, taking this seriously, we asked the committee staff to
contact these leading researchers to followup to see if there
is anything we should be concerned with in that memo. Dr.
Judith Curry, as you know, a leading researcher, told us that
all the research scientists working in the area of hurricanes
agree that average hurricane intensity will increase with
increasing tropical sea surface temperature. Theory, models,
observations all support this increase. She tells us that the
recent research indicates an impact of global warming is more
intense hurricanes. The current debate and lack of consensus is
about the magnitude, she says, of the increased intensity, not
Dr. Michael Mann, also a prominent researcher, tells us
that in his view, you have misinterpreted the WMO report in
arguing that it somehow contradicts information provided in the
scientific background of the hearing memo that you had a chance
to review. He says, the current state of play with the science
on this is accurately summarized in the hearing memo.
Now, given all the testimony that we have received today, I
am wondering whether you stand by your statement which is
essentially a challenge to the memo of this committee. We have
heard evidence of hundreds of incidents of political
interference. We have heard very direct testimony from some of
the people here and others that the White House did edit
documents to introduce doubt where essentially no doubt
existed. We have heard scientists' contacts with the press were
in fact being monitored by the White House.
In light of today's testimony and the information provided
to the committee by Drs. Curry and Mann, is it still your
belief that the committee's hearing memo is, ``exactly the same
sort of thing'' the Bush administration has done?
Mr. Pielke. I thank you for the opportunity to clarify, and
I did say the word, in microcosm. This is, I think, and I will
stand by exactly what I said, and I am happy to talk about the
science and impacts of hurricanes as long as you would like
because it is an area I have been researching for about 15
years. The memo includes the statement, recently published
studies have suggested that the impacts of global warming
include increases, and it cites three papers that look
retrospectively back in time. So it is not talking about
projections in the future. So the statement by Dr. Judy Curry
who is a great scientist, who I have a lot of respect for,
isn't on point here.
I want to make a point that I hope everyone recognizes. The
same dynamic that we just saw, talking about the Soon-Baliunas
paper as the one outlier contradicting the consensus. We see
this on the exact other side. Now there was 120 scientists that
includes Kerry Emmanuel and Greg Holland who were co-authors of
those three papers cited here, came up with a consensus
statement on hurricanes and climate change. That is analogous
to the IPCC. Subsequently, the American Meteorological Society
has endorsed that statement.
Now I am not a climate scientist and just like I accept the
consensus of the IPCC, I am compelled to accept the consensus
of the hurricane community. Now it is very easy to pick out a
Soon and Baliunas paper or selectively email a scientist and
say, what is your view?
I respect Dr. Mann and Dr. Curry have their views about
what the statement says, but I am absolutely 100 percent
certain that the statement that is in your background memo does
not faithfully represent the science. It selects among the
science perspectives, and that is inevitable, and we have to
recognize that, and no one is immune from it. It doesn't excuse
the Bush administration from their actions, of course, but let
us not pretend that somehow we can separate out scientific
truth from political preferences. The reality is they are
always going to be intermixed.
Mr. Welch. The memo, the committee memo, states very
specifically that the evidence suggests that link.
Mr. Pielke. That is true.
Mr. Welch. The evidence is there.
Mr. Pielke. Yes, it is there.
Mr. Welch. You are now taking the leap to suggest that the
committee memo is similar to the conduct of interfering with
scientific debate that we have heard testimony about from these
Mr. Pielke. In microcosm. In microcosm, it shows how easy
and simple it is to selectively report scientific information
to favor a particular agenda, absolutely. The statement in
there is accurate. It is just like what we have heard about
some of the changes. The statement that Mr. Cooney made, some
them were judged to be accurate but misleading. This is exactly
the same sort of thing.
Mr. Welch. Thank you very much.
I wonder, Dr. Grifo, if you could respond if you have any
different point of view than Dr. Pielke.
Ms. Grifo. I would just respond by saying that, you know,
peer review is the gold standard and that this is something
that, you know, science will resolve. Ultimately, you know, as
the scientific process continues to study hurricane intensity
and what that means and what it doesn't mean, you know, we
still have all these other lines of evidence that really point
us in the direction that we have all been talking about here
today which is that this is a huge and serious problem and we
need to get on it.
Mr. Waxman. Mr. Welch, will you yield to me?
Mr. Welch. I yield to the chairman, yes. Thank you.
Mr. Waxman. Doctor, you are a doctor, but you are not a
scientist. You are a political scientist.
Mr. Pielke. I am a political scientist. That is accurate.
Mr. Waxman. And you said you are absolutely certain that
you are right on this issue and that Dr. Curry and Dr. Mann are
wrong in their statement. Isn't that quite a statement for you
to make? No scientist here has been willing to make any
statement that there is absolute certainty because the process
of science continues to evaluate things.
Dr. Shindell, you are familiar with Dr. Curry and Dr. Mann,
is that correct? Dr. Shindell, are you familiar with those two?
Mr. Shindell. Yes.
Mr. Waxman. Are they somewhat isolated in the field with
their own theories at odds with the majority of scientists?
Mr. Shindell. No. They are quite within the mainstream.
Mr. Waxman. In fact, isn't Dr. Mann one of the leading
scientists in global warming issues?
Mr. Shindell. Yes. Yes, he is.
Mr. Waxman. And Dr. Curry as well?
Mr. Shindell. Yes.
Mr. Waxman. So I am just wondering whether we should
believe them or the certainty of Dr. Pielke that they are
Mr. Pielke. May I clarify, Mr. Waxman?
Mr. Waxman. Yes, please.
Mr. Pielke. My certainty is as to what the WMO hurricane
consensus says. Let me say I have led two inter-disciplinary
papers including climate scientists, peer-reviewed, reviewing
the science of hurricanes and climate change that were
published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological
Society in 2005 and 2006, and the summary that is in those
papers has stood up to the WMO and AMS consensus points. So it
is fair to say your background means that you can't speak on
this topic and so on, but do recognize that scholars today work
on inter-disciplinary teams and there is literature that Dr.
Shindell would accept as being in the mainstream peer-reviewed
Mr. Waxman. I don't dispute your ability to study the field
and make comments on it except when we say that evidence
suggests something which seems to be backed by Dr. Mann and Dr.
Curry for you to say they are wrong. We didn't reach the
conclusion. We said evidence suggests this.
Mr. Pielke. Let me clarify again. I did not say that they
are wrong. I said that their views are not consistent with the
mainstream consensus in the community. I am 100 percent sure of
Mr. Waxman. Do you know whether that is true, Dr. Shindell?
Mr. Shindell. I believe that their views are consistent
with the mainstream consensus, and I think that we are having a
slight semantic argument over what the mainstream consensus is.
Is it that hurricanes have increased in severity in the past?
Will they increase in the future? I think it is an interesting
issue, this one, because unlike some of the other aspects of
global warming that are better understood, there is some
legitimate controversy, and so it can lead to these kinds of
But one of the interesting things about uncertainty, there
are two points. One is that scientists are very open about the
uncertainty and that is what leads to these kinds of statements
saying yes, we don't know everything about it.
Another is that while we have been looking at model
projections to inform us about the kind of world we are likely
to live in, when you look at these studies of hurricanes, they
are suggesting that maybe the models are drastically under-
predicting what is likely to happen. These studies that are
referred to in your statement from this committee are showing
much, much stronger increases than anybody's model guess.
So, yes, there is uncertainty, but that cuts both ways. It
might mean we don't understand everything, and so it could be
better. It might also mean that things might end up far worse
than what we are saying they are likely to be.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you.
Mr. Welch, do you want to conclude your questioning?
Mr. Welch. I will just finish by going back to Dr. Pielke.
What I understand is you are acknowledging that the
committee memo does cite mainstream science, correct?
Mr. Pielke. Absolutely, it does.
Mr. Welch. What I want to know, after we have been through
this, is this, are you standing by your position that this memo
that cites mainstream science is exactly the same kind of
conduct as what we have heard occurred in the Bush
administration where there was direct interference with
independent conclusions reached by scientists following the
Mr. Pielke. I will repeat exactly what I said in my written
testimony. In microcosm, this shows how in political settings,
which the preparation of Government reports is, how easy,
enticing it is to selectively present scientific results to
buttress a political perspective.
Mr. Welch. Would you say there is a difference between
citing mainstream science in a public memo as opposed to
altering science as presented to a PR person?
Mr. Pielke. Not much difference, no.
Mr. Waxman. The gentleman's time has expired.
Mr. Welch. Thank you.
Mr. Yarmuth. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would stipulate for the record that I am not a scientist
either, but I am journalist by background and an editor, so I
would like to pursue a line of questioning that Mr. Shays had
with Mr. Piltz.
When I was editing stories, I basically looked for two
things. One was whether the message was communicated clearly
and second whether claims made in the article or the document
were backed up by any evidence. If I saw something that I
suspected might have been speculative musing or something of
that nature, I would have gone to the author and asked the
author to show me the documentation or the supporting or the
interviews or whatever sources he or she might have had for
I am taking it from this discussion that Mr. Cooney made no
particular effort to determine whether in fact there was
something substantive behind the portions of those reports that
Mr. Piltz. That is correct.
Mr. Yarmuth. So, essentially, what he did was interpose
judgment for the scientists who wrote the report.
Mr. Piltz. For the career science people, yes.
Mr. Yarmuth. Dr. Grifo, you have a report coming out today,
and it includes some extensive interviews with about 40
Government global warming scientists. I would like to focus on
one. Dr. Pieter Tans, who was the Chief Scientist for NOAA's
Global Monitoring Division, was asked back in October 2004 to
do a press conference with the BBC or an interview with the
BBC. That was a month before the Presidential election. How
long did it take for Dr. Tans to receive approval to give that
Ms. Grifo. The interviews were not approved until February
Mr. Yarmuth. 2005, so it took 4 months to approve the
Ms. Grifo. Well, that was the approval. They didn't
actually take place until even a month after that.
Mr. Yarmuth. Is that a normal cycle for approval of an
interview from a media outlet? My experience would say that
would be an extraordinarily long period of time.
Ms. Grifo. That would be consistent with my experience,
Mr. Yarmuth. Just in terms of other interviews that
scientists might have given, and any of you can answer, would
it take 4 months for even a Government agency scientist to
agree to do an interview or turn down an interview?
Ms. Grifo. To me or to them?
Mr. Yarmuth. Whomever.
Mr. Shindell. We had cases at NASA where a request would
come in, say from CNN, to talk about the latest global
temperature changes. Our public affairs officer would relay
that to us and by the time we got back, they would say
headquarters has already told them that nobody is available and
there will not be such an interview. So those things did
Mr. Yarmuth. Was there--oh, I am sorry.
Ms. Grifo. I just was letting him go first. Can I just hop
in, back in?
Mr. Yarmuth. Sure.
Ms. Grifo. I mean our report indicates a large number of
those instances happening. I mean there is a number that are
described, anonymous scientists from NOAA, Christopher Milly,
Dr. Shindell's case, Richard Weatherall. There are many of
these that have been documented, so it is not an isolated
Mr. Yarmuth. Were there conditions placed on the approval
of the interview with Dr. Tans?
Ms. Grifo. Just there was a minder. There was a public
affairs officer, and in fact he flew across the country and
even to Mauna Loa, Hawaii in order to be there for those
Mr. Yarmuth. Did he serve any useful purpose as far as you
can tell? Is that standard operating procedure when a scientist
Ms. Grifo. I think what is important here is that
scientists coordinate with the agency, that they let the agency
know an interview is taking place and that they report back on
this interview after the interview has taken place. That is
what the critical role and the relationship should be between a
scientist and a public affairs officer.
Mr. Yarmuth. Basically, the taxpayers paid to send someone
along over the global to just watch Peter Tans give an
Ms. Grifo. Yes, sir, they did.
Mr. Yarmuth. That is all I have. I yield back, Mr.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you very much, Mr. Yarmuth.
Mr. Issa. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Waxman. You are recognized for a second round.
Mr. Issa. Thank you and thank you so much for calling this
hearing. As I mentioned as a sidebar, this is at least two
great hearings wrapped into one, perhaps three. I will try to
get through just a couple more points.
Mr. Piltz, my understanding is that you were a strong
supporter, remain a strong supporter of the 2000 National
Assessment on Climate Change.
Mr. Piltz. Yes.
Mr. Issa. Both you and Dr. Pielke, I am sure are familiar
with James Hansen.
Mr. Piltz. Yes.
Mr. Issa. Also, well-respected, and my understanding is he
vehemently disagreed with the assessments, felt that the models
were flawed, leading to overly pessimistic views and said so in
a number of writings. Is that roughly correct?
Mr. Piltz. I am not aware of Dr. Hansen's specific comments
on the National Assessment, but I think that every scientist
had an individual opinion about how he might have done it
Mr. Issa. Dr. Pielke, are you familiar with that?
Mr. Pielke. I am not familiar with that.
Mr. Issa. He said, ``The predicted 1 percent per year or 2
to 3 full 21st century increases in CO2 assumed in
the study may be pessimistic.'' Then he goes on and does a
little more than may, but it was interesting that he used may,
something that sometimes people object to. That study turned
into a lawsuit and the Government, this Clinton administration
assessment which you support, which James Hansen had doubts
about, in fact, turned out by an admission of the
administration to be flawed and is no longer in widespread use.
In a nutshell, you end up with you can have the Government
do work. The science can have problems in the model. It can be
questioned by a minority of the science community. It can go
through, in this case, a lawsuit, and an administration can
recognize that in fact some of the assumptions or models were
flawed and therefore overly pessimistic. That is the assessment
I find on that, but I want to continue on to Mr. Piltz a little
bit because certainly Mr. Cooney deserves----
Mr. Piltz. If I could respond to that, it would be----
Mr. Issa. We will.
He deserves to be considered as to whether his edits were
proper or not. In your resignation letter from June 1, 2005,
you did a fairly extensive memo, and I appreciate that, but one
of the things you said on page 11, speaking of Mr. Cooney's
edits, most of the more problematic CEQ comments were not
adopted. Some were and the damage to the document was
Now earlier I asked you about whether or not there was
further review. If I read this correctly and your own
statements, what we really have is we have an editor editing
your edit and then his edits being further edited, and each of
you, I am sure, like the pride of an author, would say I didn't
like his edits.
I will mention for the record that I once had dinner with
Francis Ford Coppola, and it took the entire dinner for him to
tell me how rotten a job they did screwing up his great work on
the Godfather series and each of them would have been better if
they had just left it alone. You don't even want to get into
his idea of colorization of old films.
I think the point is we are having an argument over edit,
edit, edit when in fact science is, by definition, not perfect
or infallible, and certainly the 2000 National Assessment
proves that you can have bad assumptions even in a Government
Back to Dr. Grifo--thank you--your study, this 19 percent
response rate, doesn't it fly in the face of OMB's own
requirement for an 80 percent response in fact to have a study
be considered to be reasonable survey results? I will just note
that a study done at the request of the Urban Institute and the
United Way in June 2003 for non-profits found in fact that low
rate of return raises concerns about potentially serious, non-
responsive bias. Claims from a survey project with low return
rates are frequently viewed with skepticism and even rejected
by the scholarly community.
Isn't it fair to say that your organization,
notwithstanding the question of the Vietnam War, if you will,
that is a little old history, but your organization which
released a major study just today, that had been embargoed,
that reaches a strong position on global warming is in fact an
advocacy group, and moreover the Pew Charitable Trust, which I
respect a great deal, gave you $1 million to promote getting
the Nation's commitment to energy efficiency and renewable
energy as a corner store policy?
Isn't fair to say that your organization is in fact an
advocacy group and that when we are sitting here today, what we
are seeing is several advocates of positions against a question
of whether the administration has a right to balance that
Mr. Waxman. The gentleman's time has expired. I want to
give Dr. Grifo a chance to respond and Mr. Piltz a chance to
respond as well.
Ms. Grifo. Thank you very much. Yes, sir, we are advocates
for good science. That is what we are advocates for, for
getting that information out into the public realm.
Furthermore, I would say that all those other surveys that you
have mentioned did not have the primary consideration that we
did which was protecting the anonymity of the scientists that
we surveyed. That was paramount to us. That was absolutely
incredibly important because of the chilling effect that we are
all here to discuss.
Mr. Waxman. Mr. Piltz, you seem to want to respond to Mr.
Mr. Piltz. Well, first of all, on the National Assessment
briefly, it was not a Clinton report. It was prepared by an
independent panel of eminent scientists and handed to the
Government without any Government vetting.
The Bush administration has never said anything about to
criticize the National Assessment, never given any intellectual
or scientific rationale for what, if anything, is wrong with
it. They just deep-sixed it.
The National Academy of Sciences has praised it as a
seminal, important, credible, exemplary study. That is the
bottom line on that.
As for Mr. Cooney's edits, in one report in the final
technical review draft of the Climate Change Program's
Strategic Plan, at the 12th hour, he came in and proposed more
than 400 text edits in the document that in the aggregate would
have pervasively changed the tone of the document to
manufacture an enhanced sense of uncertainty. It caused so much
consternation on the inside that there was a pushback from the
director of the Climate Change Science Program, and a solution
was negotiated at the political level that a lot of these edits
would not be taken. However, the banishing of the National
Mr. Waxman. Thank you.
Mr. Issa. Mr. Chairman, I would ask unanimous consent to
submit for the record the proof that the Clinton administration
did in fact settle and that the 2000 assessment has been
disregarded as the result of flaws.
Mr. Piltz. The Bush administration settled.
Mr. Waxman. You want to submit?
Mr. Issa. I will submit it for the record.
Mr. Waxman. You will submit some documents for the record?
Mr. Issa. I will submit the documentation. I do believe it
is the Clinton administration. I will submit it for the record.
Mr. Waxman. We will be pleased to receive whatever
documents you wish to submit for the record.
Mr. Issa. Thank you.
Mr. Waxman. Then we will make our own judgment whether it
proves something or not. Thank you.
Mr. Lynch. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Shindell, I just wanted to go over another specific
example of political interference. Now you have been at NASA's
Goddard Institute for Space Studies for 12 years, is that
Mr. Shindell. Yes.
Mr. Lynch. You were there in the late nineties.
Mr. Shindell. That is correct.
Mr. Lynch. When you completed important studies in the late
nineties, did you submit press releases for distribution?
Mr. Shindell. Yes, I did many times.
Mr. Lynch. Did you have any problems such as has been
described here earlier in the hearing, any problems in terms of
editing of those press releases?
Mr. Shindell. On the contrary, I found the comments from
headquarters and the press corps to be helpful in clarifying
Mr. Lynch. In September 2004, you submitted a press release
to announce the findings of your new study on Antarctica. You
suggested a title for the press release, ``Cool Antarctica May
Warm Rapidly This Century, Study Finds.''
First of all, can I ask you, was this a significant study?
Mr. Shindell. Well, as I mentioned in my oral testimony, I
thought it was significant, both because this was an
unexplained feature of the world's temperature trends, why
Antarctica was going the other way from the rest of the planet,
and it is an area we worry about quite a lot for possibility of
contributing to sea level rise as the ice sheets melt. So in
that yes, it was.
Mr. Lynch. Now, can I ask you, was your press release
Mr. Shindell. No. It was delayed several times and then
came back altered, and the title that we had, as you mentioned
that we had suggested was especially objected to. So we worked
for some time on that and came up with another title which we
thought might be more palatable which was NASA Scientists
Expect Temperature Flip-Flop in the Antarctic. That, too, was
After more complaints and questions as to who was editing
these things without ever getting a direct response, word came
back from above that the title should be Scientists Study
Antarctic Climate Change, with no possibility of revision. So,
as you might imagine, that doesn't really attract the attention
of most people. The public, you as Members of Congress are not
out there reading geophysical research letters. If a study says
we look at climate change in Antarctica, it drew very little
media interest. It didn't get out into the public debate, and I
think that is harmful to informing the public debate about
Mr. Lynch. Right, I just want to go back again. The phrase,
rapid warming, was deleted.
Mr. Shindell. Yes.
Mr. Lynch. Instead, it just indicates Scientists Predict
Antarctic Climate Changes, a rather neutral, rather vague
title. Were you uncomfortable with that title?
Mr. Shindell. I was not comfortable with that. I thought it
was so watered down that it would be of little interest to
anybody after all the time and effort we went to, to make this
release and communicate the results that would do a very poor
job of doing so. But when I objected, there was no response,
and I was told that it had to be that title. Indeed, there was
little media reporting.
Mr. Lynch. Let me ask you quickly. Press interviews, what
was the procedure under the Clinton administration in the late
nineties for press interviews?
Mr. Shindell. The public affairs office worked to
facilitate our contacts with the media, and when inquiries came
into public affairs, they would simply relay them to us and
say, do you have a chance to talk to this person? Go ahead.
Mr. Lynch. What was the most recent process under the Bush
Mr. Shindell. In the fall of 2004, that was when there was
imposed this rule that press officers or minders, if you will,
had to be present supposedly for our benefit to protect us from
being misquoted, although there was no feeling within the
agency that this was actually a problem.
Mr. Lynch. OK, I will yield back.
Mr. Shindell. Instead, it had a chilling effect.
Mr. Lynch. Thank you.
Mr. Waxman. The gentleman's time has expired.
Mr. Murphy. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I just had a few questions for Dr. Grifo.
We have been talking today obviously about the very unique
question of global warming and the impact of political
decisions made in Washington upon scientific opinion, but I
think we might be remiss in leaving this hearing if we didn't
admit that there is a creep of political influence into other
areas of this administration as well.
We certainly understand the long term ramifications of
global warming on the health of our Nation, but there are more
potentially immediate consequences of the political decisions
made within this administration when it comes to the Food and
Drug Administration. I understand that the Union of Concerned
Scientists have done some work into surveying the opinions of
those working in and around the Food and Drug Administration,
and I might just ask you a few questions about some of your
work there to maybe educate our panel and Congress on some of
the ancillary implications beyond the subject of global
When you did this survey of FDA scientists, it would be
interesting to know if you heard from any of those scientists
whether they were asked for non-scientific reasons to
inappropriately exclude or alter any technical information or
conclusions in any of the documents that the FDA was providing
to Congress or to other agencies. Did you get a sense from FDA
scientists whether they were asked, in essence, to censure the
information they provided for those documents?
Ms. Grifo. Yes, sir, and in answer to the actual survey
instrument that was mailed to them anonymously again with an
anonymous return, and I would also say that the FDA scientists
came back to us with 69 pages of essays, 69 pages of their own
words, irrespective of the questions we asked. Their hearts
have really been poured out into that document, and that is on
our Web site, and we can make that available.
But I would say that, you know, 145 FDA scientists had been
asked to alter info or conclusions for non-scientific reasons,
and I think even more frightening is that 461 of them knew of
cases where commercial interests had inappropriately intruded
into that process. These are the decisions that profoundly and
very directly affect our health and the health of our children.
I would just add that I had a personal experience with
Ketek, a drug that really never should have come onto the
market and because of the manipulation of the science, did. In
fact, this was a drug that caused profound liver failure and
was prescribed to my son for an infected hangnail. I mean this
is the risk that we encounter with this kind of interference.
Mr. Murphy. You gave sort of the gross numbers of those
that responded. What percentages of the respondents are you
talking about that either believed that they were forced into
making decisions for commercial rather than scientific reasons
or even felt pressure?
I mean to the extent that people actually changed their
input or changed the recommendations they were making, but then
there is also simply the issue of those in the agency that felt
that they were pressured to make those different decisions. Do
you have a sense of what percentage of scientists answered in
the affirmative to those types of questions?
Ms. Grifo. Yes, and again we went to great lengths to
determine who were the scientists and made sure that they were
the respondents. We had a high level of Ph.D.s, a high level of
high GS scientists responding and a very high level of 10 and
15 years at the agency. So these were the cream of the crop, if
you will. Sixty percent knew of cases where commercial
interests inappropriately induced or attempted to induce
changes to FDA decisions or actions, and again 61 percent of
all respondents knew of cases of inappropriate political
Mr. Murphy. In your experience of surveying different
agencies and departments of the administration, how does the
concern of those scientists and the pressure put upon the FDA
officials and scientists, how does that compare with some of
the other issues that we have been talking about today or other
experiences that you have heard from other departments and
agencies within the administration?
Ms. Grifo. I think one of the most frightening ones has to
do with fear of retaliation, that we had 396 scientists at the
Food and Drug Administration who could not publicly express
concerns about public health without fear of retaliation and
that 357 of them, that would be 36 percent of our respondents,
could not even express those concerns within the agency.
As I started off in my testimony, the total number from
across the Federal Government and the number was, when we look
at retaliation, 699 scientists. That is 39 percent across 9
agencies have reported that they fear retaliation for openly
expressing their concerns about the mission-driven work of
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Mr. Murphy. Your time has expired.
Mr. Murphy. Thank you very much.
Mr. Waxman. Mr. Braley.
Mr. Braley. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am very concerned that even if the White House and
administration political appointees can't edit every scientific
report and press release, they are sending a strong signal to
Government scientists that the threat of global warming should
be played down and science should get as little attention as
possible. Because of that, good scientists who do important
research may worry about voicing their concerns or publicizing
Mr. Piltz, I am going to start with you. Are you personally
worried about the chilling effect or self-censorship that this
environment breeds and if so, can you share with us how that
manifests itself in the way you and your colleagues do your
Mr. Piltz. That is an excellent question, and I think it is
a key point really and one I haven't had a chance to emphasize.
I know I cited the marked-up documents that came fairly early
on as graphic illustrations of a pervasive pattern, but you
know once this heavy-handed censorship signal is sent, the
career people in the Federal agencies, they defer to the White
House. They have their antenna out.
What could be career limiting? Don't rock the boat. They
are great public servants, but what sets in if you know that
what you are writing has to go through a White House clearance
before it can be published, people start writing for the
clearance, toning down, steering away from and kind of
anticipatory self-censorship sets in among the career Federal
Maybe not on--the FDA scientists and some of the other
agencies, their scientific conclusions feed directly into
regulatory decisionmaking. So the pressure is right on their
scientific conclusions. Since we don't really have a regulatory
regime on climate change, the interference tends to be more
with the communication that might influence the way people
think about the issue, but it is the same. It is an analogous
dynamic. People censor themselves, and there is a chilling
Mr. Braley. Thank you.
Dr. Shindell, what about you? Have you seen or heard about
any of your colleagues responding to expected political
pressure by censoring themselves or just giving up on a press
release or a press contact?
Mr. Shindell. Yes, both of these things, I think that
people are aware that releases would be delayed so long if they
tried to talk about global warming and climate change that it
was left out. I have seen people talk much more favorably about
the environment at universities now where they encourage
outreach as opposed to what is going on in the Federal
Mr. Braley. Thank you.
Dr. Grifo, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the
Government Accountability Project interviewed 40 Government
climate scientists. Were any of these scientists worried about
the administration learning of their conversations with you?
Ms. Grifo. Yes, and in fact the number that the study began
with was much higher. It was more than 150, almost 200
scientists, and out of that large group that were contacted for
the study, we really only ended up with 5 or 6 that were
willing to go on the record, a significant drop, obviously
because of their fear of retaliation or other problems.
Mr. Braley. I am going to offer this question to the entire
panel. As someone who started out in a very challenging
engineering curriculum and later switched to a political
science degree, one of the things I know is that the heavy
emphasis on math and science often times makes it impractical
to educate scientists on some of the constitutional protections
they have in terms of freedom of speech, freedom from
interference with voicing their opinions in a setting similar
to what we are talking about.
Dr. Grifo, one of the things you had talked about was an
increased need for whistleblower protections and also insuring
that scientists have a constitutionally protected right of free
speech. What, if anything, do we need to be doing to educate
scientists to make sure that they understand the constitutional
basis for their free speech protections and arm them with the
knowledge so they can be more forceful advocates to speak out
and have the courage to do what is necessary to make sure that
we become aware of these concerns?
Ms. Grifo. I think one of the key things that we need to do
is to affirmatively educate. We cannot assume that in fact
these scientists know what these things mean. In our
experiences, our conversations with scientists, anecdotally as
well as in the essays and the other ways that we receive
communications have told us over and over that the line is gray
to them, and so because of that grayness, they are taking giant
steps backward from what they are actually able to do.
What we are asking for very simply is that these things
come out, that we have clear policies. We have a model media
policy that is appendixed to the report which clearly lays out
yes, there are roles for public affairs officers. Coordination
is important. We are not saying that you don't have to play by
some rules. But what we are saying very loudly, very clearly I
hope, is that you don't give up your constitutional rights when
you become a Federal scientist, that in fact there are
protections and statutes that need to be communicated and
enforced, and the scientists need to know where that line is so
that they can be at that line and not self-censoring themselves
away from it.
Mr. Piltz. If I could add just one other quick point, the
last four pages of my written testimony has memoranda prepared
by the legal director at the Government Accountability Project
on how even the NASA media policy, which is an upgrade, falls
short in terms of the Whistleblower Protection Act protections,
the Anti-Gag Statute and things that make it clear that
scientists don't give up their freedom of speech when they
become Federal employees. There are some specific issues and
legislative points raised in that, that I think I would commend
to the committee's attention.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you very much, Mr. Braley.
Mr. Shindell. I would say that I agree with the statement
of the other witnesses, and I would also like to mention that
there is a second issue here. With NASA, for example, we do
have this new openness policy which is a great first step, but
what we are seeing in the future is we may be able to
communicate information but we may not have any information
because all of the budget for Earth observations is being
gradually shifted within NASA whose budget is staying high, but
it is being shifted to other areas. It is being moved out of
science and especially out of Earth science. So we are likely 5
years to 10 years from now to have far less ability to even
observe our own planet than we do now.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you.
Mr. Welch. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
In February 2006, the New York Times reported that
political appointees in the NASA press office were in fact
exerting strong pressure during the 2004 Presidential campaign
to cut the flow of news releases on climate change in the
article entitled Call for Openness at NASA Adds to Reports of
Pressure. I would like to ask that be made part of the record
Mr. Waxman. Without objection, so ordered.
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Mr. Welch. Thank you.
Dr. Shindell, listening to your testimony, I can't help but
wonder if your personal experience is related to that broader
story. What can you tell us about your experiences with NASA in
the run-up to the 2004 election and does the Times article
appear consistent with your own experience?
Mr. Shindell. Well, obviously, it is difficult to know what
intentions were behind policies that you didn't see formulated,
but I would certainly agree that it is consistent. All of these
new restrictions that I was talking about on press releases and
the imposition of minders to be present at interviews, all of
that took place in the fall of 2004 just before the election.
Mr. Welch. Dr. Grifo, do you have anything to add on this
Ms. Grifo. Not to comment on the timing, but just simply to
say that there are six categories of things that we saw and
that we documented in the GAP portion of the report, press
release delays, the presence of minders, preapproval for
interviews and rerouting of interviews, overall decreased media
contact, altering of documents.
Perhaps also intimidating really had to do with the
requirement that scientists prepare Q and As. They had to
anticipate what questions were going to come up in these
interviews and in fact you might think so what is so bad about
that. Well, in fact, what was happening was that the
information in those Q and As was used to actually determine
whether or not the interviews were granted or to feed into that
process of decisionmaking.
Mr. Welch. Were there any resources that reported what you
Ms. Grifo. All of these, yes. I mean, they are. I can give
you, you know, pages of documentation that we have. I mean we
have the interviews. But I think also very interestingly a lot
of this work was based on documents obtained through the
Freedom of Information Act, and I think really interestingly is
that in response to very broad queries about climate and
climate change and very, very broad questions, we received
2,000 pages of documents. The Government Accountability
Project, I should say, received 2,000 pages of documents from
NOAA, 9 pages from NASA and no pages from the EPA.
Mr. Welch. One other question, later this week, the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] is going to
release its latest scientific assessment about our
understanding of climate change science. The IPCC, as you know,
it includes hundreds of the world's finest scientists.
In light of that, I notice that the IPCC is mentioned in
the CEQ documents reviewed by the committee staff. In one
document, the CEQ Chief of Staff, Mr. Cooney, informs another
White House staffer that they will use a controversial paper to
rebut the IPCC, and in the EPA memo, an EPA staffer notices
this might be a problem and saying that the EPA will take
responsibility and severe criticism from the science and
environmental community for poorly representing the science.
I want to ask the panelists, is the credibility of the IPCC
in doubt? Does it make any sense for our Government to seek to
actively undercut this body of scientists?
Dr. Grifo, perhaps you could start.
Ms. Grifo. Yes, I think what I would like to say about the
IPCC is that, you know, it is one of the most extensive
transparent, you know, examples of iterate peer review. I mean
I think it is a document that has reviewers and review editors
and many processes of meetings and conversations in order to
have this process move forward. I think that what is really
extraordinary about it is that all of the authors of each
chapter must agree that all sides of the science have been
fairly represented, and I think that really gets to the heart
of the openness of the scientific exchange that it represents.
But I think furthermore 2,500 scientific expert reviewers,
800 contributing authors, 450 lead authors from 130 countries,
6 years of work. I think it is an amazing piece of work and
will be received in that way.
Just if I might add one other note. I want to say that
there is more information. I mean there, we are continuing and
the Government Accountability Project is continuing to work on
this and on the documentation, and there is to be another
report in about a month's time.
Mr. Welch. Thank you.
Mr. Piltz. Yes, I would say that when the science community
comes together and produces these comprehensive assessments and
they do have synthesis and policymaker summaries that are
readily understandable, that this is what those of us who are
not technical experts should use, basically. This is the well
vetted assessment. Even after we have lifted the heavy hand of
censorship, there is still the matter of taking these findings,
learning them, adopting them, using them, embracing them and
translating them into the appropriate policy responses.
Mr. Welch. Thank you.
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Mr. Welch.
Dr. Shindell, did you want to add anything to the question
on the IPCC?
Mr. Shindell. I would agree that this is the most
authoritative document we have, and I would say that it does
not exclude anybody that wants to participate. The paper that
you referred to that supposedly would undermine it, those
authors are free to join in the process as well to offer their
comments and criticism, and their documents were taken into
account with everybody else. All of the available research is
evaluated, and so this is really a wonderful thing for
policymakers to have everybody sit together and look and get
the best evidence.
The only drawback that I can see with this process is that
it takes so long that by the time it comes out, some things can
be out of date. What we have seen, for example, is that the
melting of Greenland has been accelerating so incredibly
rapidly, that the IPCC report that will come out next week will
already be out of date in predicting likely sea level rise
which will probably be much worse than is projected in the IPCC
Mr. Waxman. Thank you, Mr. Welch.
Mr. Yarmuth, do you wish a second round?
Mr. Yarmuth. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
We have heard some very disturbing testimony today about
political interference in the area of climate science, but the
politicization of science isn't limited under the Bush
administration to climate change. We have heard all sorts of
evidence regarding endangered species and food and drug safety
Dr. Grifo, the Union of Concerned Scientists has surveyed
other scientists in the past. You have a February 2005 survey
of fish and wildlife scientists that included hundreds of
biologists, ecologists and botanists. When you asked those
scientists, was there evidence that they felt that had been
directed for non-scientific reasons to refrain from making
scientific findings that would protect endangered species?
Ms. Grifo. Yes, sir, and I would say in that survey,
actually the return rate was almost 30 percent, so it was a
higher rate if that matters, but 44 percent of the endangered
species scientists reported being directed for non-scientific
reasons to refrain from findings protective of species.
Mr. Yarmuth. Were scientific conclusions reversed or
withdrawn because of the business interests in any instances?
Ms. Grifo. Well, what we saw was that 70 percent of the
scientists reported or knew of cases where political appointees
had injected themselves into those ecological services
Mr. Yarmuth. Based on your survey, it is clear that there
was political interference and that it was widespread when it
comes to science surrounding endangered species. How did this
affect the outcome of policymakers and decisionmakers? Was
there any evidence based on your survey that decisionmakers
made decisions differently based on this suppressed science, if
Ms. Grifo. I think there are a couple of aspects to that
question. I mean one is that self-censorship that we keep
returning to. I mean I think when I go to scientific meetings
such as my discipline, and fish and wildlife scientists come up
to me, then express very clearly their experiences and their
hesitation to bring forward this kind of information.
I think in addition to that, I mean obviously there are
things in the survey, but overall I mean what we have seen is a
very large drop in the number of species that end up being
listed. Whether or not you agree or disagree with that, the
fact is that the science is not coming out. Again, there are
problems with being able to publish results in peer review
literature. There are problems with these basic scientific
freedoms amongst the scientists in fish and wildlife. Again,
these species are important for various reasons, and they have
consequences for the American people.
Mr. Yarmuth. Mr. Chairman, this hearing is appropriately
focused on how the Bush administration officials have
repeatedly tried to muzzle Government climate scientists and
distort their findings. We need to remember that this is part
of a larger pattern of politics trumping science throughout the
Bush administration. I commend you once again for holding these
Mr. Waxman. Thank you very much, Mr. Yarmuth.
I want to thank each of the witnesses for your presentation
today. You are very distinguished scientists with a great deal
Policymakers must have good science, unfiltered, unaltered
scientific information especially when taxpayers' dollars are
being used to pursue that information. Even, of course, if it
is coming from the private sector, if information is being sent
to us, it ought to be the information that the scientists have
I think this hearing today will further our ability to deal
with the issue of climate change, and of course the big issue
before us is to get the administration to move from a
confrontation to cooperation. We have been trying on a
bipartisan basis for 6 months to get the information from the
Council on Environmental Quality. I expect to get that
information and any other information that is pertinent to the
representatives of the American people.
That concludes our hearing, and we stand adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 1:47 p.m., the committee was adjourned.]