House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) opened another front in his war with federal climate researchers on Wednesday, saying a groundbreaking global warming study was “rushed to publication” over the objections of numerous scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In a second letter in less than a week to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Smith urged her to pressure NOAA to comply with his subpoena for internal communications. Smith says whistleblowers have come forward with new information on the climate study’s path to publication in June.
The study refuted claims that global warming had “paused” or slowed over the past decade, undercutting a popular argument used by those who refute the scientific consensus that man-made pollution is behind global warming.
The research, considered a bombshell in the climate change debate, set off alarms among skeptics. Smith, a prominent congressional skeptic, claimed that scientists manipulated data to advance President Obama’s agenda and timed the study’s release to coincide with the administration’s new limits on emissions from coal plants.
He is seeking NOAA’s internal communications and e-mails among its researchers, and in October subpoenaed Administrator Kathryn Sullivan for the documents. But she has refused to turn them over, saying that deliberative communications between scientists should be protected.
Smith told Pritzker that the whistleblowers’ allegations make it more crucial that he be provided with the scientists’ internal e-mails and communications. If NOAA does not produce the e-mails he is seeking by Friday, the chairman said, “I will be forced to consider use of compulsory process,” a threat to subpoena the commerce secretary herself.
Whistleblowers have told the committee, according to Smith’s letter, that Thomas Karl — the director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, which led the study — “rushed” to publish the climate study “before all appropriate reviews of the underlying science and new methodologies” used in the climate data sets were conducted.
“NOAA employees raised concerns about the timing and integrity of the process but were ignored,” he wrote.
NOAA Communications Director Ciaran Clayton, one of the officials whose communications the committee has subpoenaed, said in an e-mail:
“The notion that this paper was rushed to publication is false. In December 2014, the co-authors of the study submitted their findings to Science — a leading scientific journal. Following a rigorous peer review process, which included two rounds of revisions to ensure the credibility of the data and methodologies used, Science informed the authors that the paper would be published in June.
“The notion that NOAA is ‘hiding something’ is also false. We have been transparent and cooperative with the House Science Committee to help them better understand the research and underlying methodologies. … We stand behind our scientists who conduct their work in an objective manner.”
An aide to the Science Committee told The Post that the committee “has been in continual contact with whistleblowers for some time and received new information as recently as yesterday.”