Bush Administration Covers Up Reports on Climate Change

Perhaps one reason the Bush Administration gets away with so much is that they have so many lies and cover ups going on that it is too hard to keep up on each one. Yesterday I looked at their cover up of their failure to act on recommendations from the Clinton Administration on handling terrorism, including their efforts to cover up the fact that they even received the proposals. Nature reports on the Bush Administration covering up reports on climate change:

A statement on the science behind the politically sensitive issue of hurricane activity and climate change has been blocked by officials at the US Department of Commerce, Nature has learned.
Work on the statement began this February after complaints about the actions of political appointees at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an agency that falls under commerce-department control. NOAA researchers accused the appointees of ignoring – on the agency’s website and at press conferences – the possibility that global warming could cause hurricanes to become more intense or frequent. The agency was also accused of preventing scientists who believe there might be such a link from speaking out (see Nature 439, 896-897; 2006).The link is a sensitive issue because of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and the US government’s reluctance to restrict the greenhouse-gas emissions that are driving climate change.

NOAA officials denied both of the accusations from researchers. But e-mails obtained under freedom-of-information legislation by the environmental group Greenpeace USA, based in Washington DC, show that several NOAA scientists told their seniors that the agency was not properly representing hurricane science. The scientists’ complaints prompted the creation of an internal seven-member panel charged with preparing a consensus statement on the views of NOAA researchers on hurricane science. A draft seen by Nature states that global warming may be contributing to hurricane intensity and that further research is needed to clarify the issue.

The document was finalized by the panel in mid-May and was due to be released to the public and the media in time for the start of this year’s hurricane season in June. But panel chair Ants Leetmaa, director of NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton University, New Jersey, received an e-mail on 18 May from a commerce-department official informing him that the document needed to be made less technical and was not to be released. Leetmaa says department officials have not responded to his efforts to contact them since.

The report in Nature follows similar accusations published recently in Salon:

In February, there were several press reports about the Bush administration exercising message control on the subject of climate change. The New Republic cited numerous instances in which top officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and scientists at the National Hurricane Center sought to downplay links between more-intense hurricanes and global warming. NOAA scientist Thomas Knutson told the Wall Street Journal he’d been barred from speaking to CNBC because his research suggested just such a link.

At the time, Bush administration officials denied that they did any micromanaging of media requests for interviews. But a large batch of e-mails obtained by Salon through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that the White House was, in fact, controlling access to scientists and vetting reporters. (The e-mails were provided to several members of Congress for comment; Rep. Henry Waxman’s office has now published them here.) . . .

“Unfortunately,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., after viewing e-mails provided by Salon, “it is no longer surprising to receive reports of the Bush administration interfering with public access to government scientists. These documents, if confirmed, suggest the lengths the Bush administration will go to control the message rather than let the facts speak for themselves.” Boxer will be among the senators questioning Jim Connaughton of CEQ Wednesday when he appears before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

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