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U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, is expanding the scope of his investigation into NOAA’s research claiming there has been no hiatus in warming temperatures. He cited the “slow pace and limited scope” of NOAA’s response to the committee’s October 2015 subpoena for documents related to that research. NOAA has provided more than 300 pages of e-mails and other documents produced by political appointees and by NOAA’s director of communications, but the agency refuses to hand over records of its internal scientific deliberations.
In his letter notifying NOAA of the expanded probe Smith writes, “The speed with which NOAA has conducted these searches and produced documents creates the perception that the Agency is deliberately attempting to impede and hinder the Committee’s oversight.” Originally focused on whether NOAA’s research satisfies the high standards required by the 2001 Data Quality Act to “ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information, including statistical information,” the House committee probe now asks to what extent, if any, the Obama administration and NOAA are collaborating to manipulate research in order to push the political agenda of fighting climate change.
NOAA issued a press release touting its “no pause” finding just as EPA launched its controversial Clean Power Plan and as the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris was looming. Were any Obama administration officials communicating with NOAA about the substance or timing of the study and press statements prior to issuing them? Smith hopes to find out.
“It’s perfectly reasonable for the committee to have oversight over any sort of political influence over the science,” the journal Nature quotes Michael Halpern, program manager for the UCS Center for Science and Democracy, as saying.