Science Orgs’ Letter Condemning GOP’s NOAA Probe Actually Written By An Environmental Activist

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

A non-profit is trying to get professional science societies to sign a letter condemning a House Republican investigation of the government’s climate agency over a study that drastically rewrote the global temperature record.

The letter may have actually been written by a left-wing environmental activist, and not The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) personnel — undercutting the notion this letter is the work of a disinterested scientific body.

The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained the AAAS letter, and an examination of its metadata shows the document was created by Michael Halperin, who works for the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

AAAS-UCS Letter

UCS is a left-wing environmental group that opposes fossil fuels and claims global warming “is already having significant and harmful effects on our communities, our health, and our climate.” The group claims the oil industry is engaged in a “coordinated campaign of deception” on climate science led by “ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, Shell, Peabody Energy, and other members of the fossil fuel industry.”

UCS members have given thousands of dollars to Democratic politicians over the years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), while giving nothing to Republicans. UCS has also spent more than $5 million lobbying lawmakers and federal agencies since 1998, according to CRP.

The UCS-written AAAS letter is in response to an investigation led by Texas Republican Rep. [crscore]Lamar Smith[/crscore] into a study published by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) claiming the 10- to 15-year “hiatus” in global warming never existed. The study says newly “adjusted” temperature data does “not support the notion of a global warming ‘hiatus.’”

Smith asked NOAA for records regarding the study, including communications from agency employees surrounding the study’s methodology and public relations effort. NOAA gave the committee publicly available data about the study, but refuses to turn over emails and other communications to Smith.

NOAA says such records “essential to frank discourse among scientists.” The science agency says it has a history of protecting the “confidentiality of deliberative scientific discussions.”

Liberal media outlets and environmentalists, including UCS’ Halperin, cast Smith’s investigation as a “witch hunt.” NOAA’s refusal to turn over records likely inspired AAAS to circulate a letter of support for NOAA — a letter that may have actually been written by Halperin.

“These excessively broad inquiries threaten to inhibit the free exchange of ideas across scientific disciplines not only for NOAA, but for other government experts and the academic and industry scientists with whom they collaborate,” according to the AAAS letter to other science societies possibly written by Halperin.

“We are concerned that establishing a practice of aggressive inquiry into federal scientists whose findings may bear on policy in ways that some find unpalatable could well have a chilling effect on the willingness of government scientists to conduct research that intersects with policy-relevant scientific questions,” the letter reads. “The repercussions of the committee’s actions could go well beyond climate science, setting a precedent to question other controversial topics such as genetically-modified organisms and vaccines that have regulatory and policy implications.”

NOAA has agreed to let scientists, policy experts and other employees be interviewed by Smith’s committee staff, but still won’t release emails.

Things could get difficult for NOAA, however, as Smith now claims whistleblowers told the committee the agency’s study on the “hiatus” was “rushed” and may have ignored “established and standard NOAA scientific processes and potentially violating NOAA’s scientific integrity policies.”

AAAS denied Halperin wrote the letter in a response to TheDCNF’s request for comment:

It sounds as though you received a very early version of an inter-society letter that has not been finalized nor approved. As you saw in the metadata, multiple people have provided input to it.

Michael Halperin of the UCS is not the author; that would be an inaccurate statement. He is one of a number of individuals who have offered us their input. The letter has undergone substantial changes since Mr. Halperin shared his input. AAAS will take all input under advisement.

Halperin also denied to TheDCNF he wrote the letter:

We have spoken with AAAS and others in the science community about how to respond to the NOAA subpoena. AAAS is the author of the letter. AAAS is taking suggestions from UCS and a number of other scientific organizations who expect to be among the signatories to the final letter.

AAAS added the final version of the letter would be “substantially different” from the one obtained by TheDCNF. Halperin also noted AAAS likely used his ideas as “a starting point” for the letter condemning Smith’s NOAA investigation.

AAAS’ spokeswoman said her colleague did a “save as” after she got “input” from Halperin on the letter instead of starting a new document.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: TheDCNF obtained a draft copy of an AAAS letter to be sent to Rep. Smith regarding his NOAA investigation. AAAS claims the letter went through “multiple people” and Halperin is just one of many who gave his input. The metadata, however, shows only two people worked on the draft letter before it was obtained by TheDCNF — Halperin and Kasey White, the policy director at the Geological Society of America. The letter originated from Halperin’s computer and was sent out to a “Climate Science Working Group” email list by White. White’s email asks those on it to let her colleague know if they would sign onto the letter by Monday. 

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Tags : american association for the advancement of science energy lamar smith national oceanic and atmospheric administration republicans texas union of concerned scientists
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