Congressmen To NASA: Stop Wasting Money On Global Warming Research

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Republican lawmakers chastised the head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Friday, saying the agency’s obsession with global warming is undercutting space exploration programs.

“There are 13 other agencies involved in climate change research, but only one that is responsible for space exploration,” Texas Rep. Lamar Smith told NASA administrator Charles Bolden in a hearing.

“The administration continues to starve NASA’s exploration programs to fund a partisan environmental agenda,” Smith said. “NASA simply deserves better.”

Republicans are concerned that NASA is spending too much money on Earth sciences while cutting funding for space exploration. President Barack Obama’s 2016 budget requests asks for $18.53 billion, a $519 million increase from 2015, but lawmakers worry the president’s budget “underfunds” certain space exploration programs.

For example, Republicans say Obama’s 2016 budget would cut $400 million from the Space Launch System and Orion programs, which are key programs for a manned space flight to Mars. In total, Republicans argue, Obama has increased funding for NASA’s Earth Science Division –which includes climate science — by 63 percent in the last eight years while cutting funding for human space exploration.

“NASA is at a crossroads,” said Mississippi Rep. Steve Palazzo. “Unfortunately, the last six years featured drastic change with the cancellation of Constellation and uncertain direction with the president’s ever-changing asteroid initiative.”

But Bolden defended the Obama administration’s budget saying it “will allow NASA to continue to lead the world in space through a balanced program of exploration, science, technology, and aeronautics research.”

“NASA is an outstanding investment for our nation not only because we uncover new knowledge, but because we raise the bar of human achievement, inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers and astronauts,” Bolden said in his prepared testimony.

Republican control over both houses of Congress put NASA’s spending under the microscope. Last month, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz told Bolden the agency needed to worry less about global warming and more about space exploration.

“Almost any American would agree that the core function of NASA is to explore space,” Cruz said. “That’s what inspires little boys and little girls across this country… and you know that I am concerned that NASA in the current environment has lost its full focus on that core mission.”

But it’s not just NASA’s spending that Republicans have criticized, lawmakers have also called into question the agency’s global temperature records. Republicans in the Senate and the House have promised to hold hearings on allegations that NASA tampers with the data to make global warming seem worse than it actually is.

“We’re going to have a committee hearing on the science,” said Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “People are going to hear the other side of the story.”

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